12 Apr 2024

The leading law firm Fieldfisher LLP was appointed in 2023 to carry out an end-to-end review of the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) enforcement system, encompassing all the BSB’s systems, processes and policies. After agreement in principle by the Board, the full report is today being published - see here.

Fieldfisher reviewed how well the BSB’s enforcement system operates from first receipt of concerns about barristers’ conduct through to final decisions being made on sanctions to be imposed by staff, an Independent Decision-making Panel or by the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Fieldfisher found that “the enforcement procedure adopted by the BSB is in line with similar models used in professional regulation elsewhere” and that “fundamentally the approach was appropriate” but the report makes a wide range of recommendations for improvement. Those recommendations span eight different areas, which include:

  • the creation of a new executive role to oversee continuous improvement of the enforcement process;
  • an improved approach to knowledge management;
  • better communication with consumers to ensure that the public understands what the Bar Standards Board can help with and what it cannot;
  • the re-engineering of some processes and of the Case Management System which supports our people in delivering those processes;
  • a number of further changes intended to bring about improvements in the performance and effectiveness of both the BSB and the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) which provides disciplinary tribunals.

The report also recommends that sections of the BSB Handbook should be adapted, and that the language used should be simplified. The Board has agreed in principle to most of the recommendations and referred others to the Independent Decision-Making Body for their consideration. The recommendations will now be taken forward by the executive.

Commenting on the report, BSB Director General Mark Neale said:

“We are grateful to Fieldfisher for this comprehensive report and its detailed recommendations which will enable us to improve and to become a more efficient and effective regulator, fostering and sustaining public confidence in our crucial enforcement work”.

Partner and co-head of Fieldfisher's Regulatory Team, Sarah Ellson said:

"We were pleased to work with the BSB on this important project. An external review such as this can provide stakeholders with real reassurance. As a team of regulatory specialists with in-depth experience of helping organisations by reviewing or auditing processes and functions, we hope that our work has helped pave the way for the BSB to make key and lasting changes."

The full report is available on the BSB website.


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: 07432 713 328 or email [email protected].

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