I would like to begin by wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

I won’t conceal from you that this has been a difficult start to the year for the Bar Standards Board. We have been subject to a good deal of criticism. The new Chair of the Bar, Nick Vineall KC, has rightly drawn attention to the importance of accelerating our investigations. We agree – though it must not be at the expense of the quality of our decisions – and  I return to this below. The Legal Services Board has made more wide-ranging criticisms. The BSB Board will be responding to the LSB later this month. I shall not anticipate that response except to reiterate the clear determination of the BSB Board and Senior Management Team that the BSB should be an effective, proactive and risk-based regulator in the public interest. You will find elsewhere in this blog some good examples of our proactivity and engagement on a number of fronts.

The BSB has recently been focusing on improving our performance and I am happy to report that, with regard to enforcement, we have already seen an improvement in the number of cases being processed through our system, with 61 investigations closed in the third quarter of 2022-23 against 31 cases in the second quarter. This improvement is encouraging and is testament to the hard work being done by BSB people to ensure we meet our targets and increase our productivity. We will continue to work hard to improve our performance in 2023.

The two new barrister Board members appointed last month, Jeffrey Chapman KC and Simon Lewis, have now taken up their appointments, as of 1 January. I look forward to working with them both, as well as continuing to work with current barrister Board member Irena Sabic KC who has been reappointed for another four years. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Irena on her appointment last month as King’s Counsel.

I would like to draw your attention to the 2023 Authorisation to Practise (AtP) period, during which practising barristers are required confirm their correct practising details and renew their practising certificates. You can find full details on how to do so below.

Finally, another important development to be aware of relates to the new prohibitions, introduced on 16 December 2022 by the Government, on providing trust services to or for the benefit of persons connected with Russia and designated persons. We have explained the new prohibitions below and further details can also be found in The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 17) Regulations 2022 (Regulation 18C) and in OFSI’s Russia guidance.

Kathryn Stone OBE


Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update: