For our Board, improving operational performance is our top priority. Last month I explained that we have already made progress in speeding up and concluding investigations. And our Independent Reviewers assure us that our decision-making has consistently been of a high quality. Building on these foundations, Deloitte is currently undertaking an independent review of the fitness for purpose and longevity of our key operating systems. We shall also soon be commissioning an independent review of our end-to-end enforcement process so that we can deliver sustained improvements in productivity, speed of processing and customer service, but with no loss of quality. I am determined to ensure that we embrace continuous improvement and hope that these measures will help us to do so in the coming months.

Perversely, because of the way our key performance indicators (KPIs) are measured, clearing overdue cases can make our performance look worse.  So don’t be surprised if our KPI performance occasionally appears to dip. I can assure you that we are working tirelessly to improve performance and that we are on track.

Last month we published an important report containing a summary of the latest available diversity data for the Bar. The report shows the continuation in 2022 of several positive trends, including an increase in the proportion of practising barristers who are female; who are from a minority ethnic background; who have primary care of a child; who have a disability; and who are aged 55 or more. It is encouraging to see the Bar becoming more diverse and better reflecting the demographics of the UK population. Nonetheless, there still remains work to be done to ensure, for example, that women and barristers from minoritised ethnic backgrounds are represented at the most senior levels of the Bar. We will continue to remind chambers to act to address these inequalities, including in the distribution of work, and I would urge all barristers to respond to our questionnaires so that we obtain the most accurate picture we can of the diversity of the Bar. These data are essential to forming an evidence base from which relevant and targeted policy can be developed, supporting us in meeting our statutory duties and achieving our equality and diversity objectives under the Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2022-25.

Elsewhere, our digital comparison tool (DCT) pilot study has welcomed another organisation – The Law Superstore. The Law Superstore will join the four DCTs already taking part in the BSB pilot, with further organisations expected to join in the coming months. Through this pilot, we are hoping to understand how the DCT market works for the Bar and its consumers. We are encouraging barristers to join the pilot and provide feedback on their experience of working with DCTs. To learn more, or to sign up to our pilot, please contact DCTPilot@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk

We are continuing our roundtables on the role of chambers this year. Last year we held very informative meetings in London and Manchester. In March and April this year we will be travelling to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle to meet members of the Bar and hear your views on the role of chambers in promoting standards, equality and access to justice. The upcoming dates will be added to our events page on our website. I hope to meet as many of you as possible around the Circuits in the coming months.

Kathryn Stone OBE

Chair

Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update: