27 Nov 2020

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published the first annual report of the Independent Decision-making Body (IDB).

The IDB was established in October 2019 as part of the BSB’s modernisation of its regulatory decision-making, replacing the Professional Conduct Committee and the Authorisations Review Panel. It is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the BSB where independent input is required. The current remit of the IDB includes enforcement decisions in relation to breaches of the BSB Handbook and considering applications for review of decisions taken on authorisations such as the issue, amendment or revocation of a practising certificate or applications for waivers in relation to compliance with the BSB Handbook. The report covers the period from 15 October 2019 to 31 March 2020 to allow future reports to align with the BSB’s standard reporting year.

The report concludes that there has been a remarkably smooth transition from the previous arrangements without any major issues of management or substance arising, and that the six months covered by the report was a learning period both for members of the IDB and the executive staff while new procedures were embedded.

Key facts from the report are as follows:

  • In 2019-20, sixteen enforcement cases and eight authorisation cases were considered by the IDB;
  • Of the enforcement cases, six were referred to disciplinary action, five had administrative sanctions imposed and five saw allegations dismissed;
  • Of the authorisations cases, six culminated in previous decisions being upheld and two resulted in decisions of the BSB Executive being overturned;
  • Four of the authorisations cases related to reductions in the duration of pupillage before being authorised to practise, two cases pertained to admission to the Bar as a Qualified Foreign Lawyer, one case concerned the decision of the Inn’s Conduct Committee (ICC) and another case related to the withdrawal of authorisation to provide education and training; and
  • Two decisions of the IDB to impose administrative sanctions were appealed in 2019-20, of which one was successful and the other is awaiting a decision.

Commenting on the report, the Chair of the BSB, Baroness Tessa Blackstone said, “We welcome the first annual report of the new Independent Decision-making Body, which was established in October 2019 as part of reforms to modernise our regulatory decision-making. This report shows that the IDB operated successfully for the six months of 2019-20 in which it was active, and it continues to embed its important role in ensuring that individual regulatory decisions are made efficiently and correctly. I should like to thank Aidan Christie QC, the former Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee, who kindly stayed on as the first chair of the IDB for the first six months and who did a great deal to ensure the smooth transition to these new arrangements”.

Former Chair of the IDB, Aidan Christie QC, said: “It has been a great privilege to be involved in this important period of modernisation of the BSB’s regulatory decision-making.  I am immensely grateful to the dedicated staff of the BSB, and all the members of the IDB, who have worked together to make this possible and who have contributed to its successful implementation.  I have every confidence that under the skilful direction of Iain Christie and Cindy Butts, as Chair and Vice Chair respectively, the work of the IDB will go from strength to strength”.

You can read the IDB Report 2019-20 here

The Bar Standards Board has also today published its Regulatory Decisions Report 2019-20, which provides an overview of decisions taken by the BSB in relation to its regulatory operations, and legal and enforcement work in the year to 31 March 2020. You can read 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

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 4691 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk.

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