The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its latest annual Regulatory Decision-Making (RDM) Report. This is the fourth RDM report that the BSB has published since it reformed the way regulatory decisions are taken in October 2019. It covers the period from April 2022 to March 2023.
This year’s report has been streamlined to make it more accessible, engaging, and easier to understand. We will also be publishing the report as an expandable web page for the first time. Under the new format, we have included information about performance against our regulatory decision key performance indicators (KPIs). We will continue to publish an accompanying statistical report, which now includes charts and graphs that were previously included in the body of the RDM report.
Early in 2022, the BSB was the target of a cyber-attack, effectively halting our regulatory operations for a number of weeks, resulting in a backlog of cases building up. Our focus this year has therefore been delivering our core operations more efficiently, clearing backlogs, reducing caseloads, improving performance, and making sure that we are properly staffed within our operational teams. Despite the challenges we have faced, there have been a number of notable successes this year. Most significantly, our teams have maintained a very high level of quality in their decision making, which is borne out in the reports from the Independent Reviewers.
The key statistical findings of the report are as follows:
- 1,732 reports were received by the Contact and Assessment Team (CAT) in the period, down from 1,999 in 2021-22.
- Reports about the use of social media increased by 20% and we expect this number to continue to grow.
- Reports about sexual harassment have more than doubled and reports around bullying and harassment continue to rise.
- Cases referred for investigation fell from 236 to 122, a decrease of 48%. 21 out of 25 cases heard at Tribunal were found proved.
- 79 reports were referred to Supervision , compared to 119 the previous year, a decrease of 34%.
- In the reporting period, 101 decisions were reviewed by the Independent Reviewer following a request by one of the parties. In six of these cases, the Independent Reviewer made recommendations for further action, or a reconsideration of the decision reached, and/or concluded that, although an appropriate outcome had been reached, inappropriate factors had been taken into account.
The performance of the BSB’s regulatory operations will continue to be a priority in the coming year. Alongside the challenges and successes of the past year, we have started taking a broader look at our decision-making processes, how we monitor and report on them, and how we can make improvements and efficiencies. This work will continue into next year as we start to embed the recommendations for improvement.
Commenting on the report, Mark Neale, the Director General of the BSB said “This has been a difficult year for those involved in our regulatory operations but they have risen to the challenge and I am proud of the productivity improvements we have made. Improving the timeliness of our regulatory decision making remains our top priority but we are making good progress. We particularly welcome the increase in reports of bullying & harassment. We know that the true incidence of harassment is much greater than implied by the reports we receive as regulator. The rise in reports is evidence of growing confidence that harassment is unacceptable and will be promptly, sensitively and rigorously addressed.”
The Independent Decision-making Body, which takes regulatory decisions on behalf of the BSB that require independent input, has also published its annual report today. You can read about that report here.
Notes to editors
About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t
About the IDB
The Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) makes decisions about cases passed to the Investigations and Enforcement Department for investigation that may require disciplinary action and determines appeals against authorisation decisions.
About the Regulatory Decision-Making Report
The Regulatory Decision-Making Report provides an overview of decisions taken by the BSB in relation to its regulatory operations, and enforcement work in the year to 31 March 2023.
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