Whether you are a barrister or not, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the BSB Regulatory Update directly each month.
Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Baroness Blackstone
I need to start this month with an important reminder about the transparency rules which came into force on 1 July 2019. As you all know, these rules are designed to improve the information available to the public about the areas of law in which barristers practise, the legal services they provide, what those services may cost, and a client's right to redress. Whether you practise from a chambers, a BSB entity or a sole practice, you must ensure that you comply by publishing the required information on your website (if you have one). If you do not have a website or the consumer does not have internet access you must have this information in a readily available format, such as a factsheet.
The Supervision Team is conducting a series of compliance checks and good progress has been made – the majority of chambers and sole practitioners are complying with the new rules and the team is always ready to help barristers and their chambers to ensure that compliance. But it is now two years since these rules came in and where a chambers, BSB entity or sole practice is assessed as non-compliant and is not clearly working to ensure compliance, we do need to be clear that this will result in enforcement action.
On 6 July, we published a new statistical analysis of the outcomes of complaints made about barristers, and the likelihood of them being subject to a complaint, between January 2015 and October 2019. The way in which reports about barristers’ conduct are dealt with was changed significantly in October 2019, so an equivalent analysis will be undertaken again later this year to understand the effect of the new system after two years of its operation.
The aims of this research were to investigate the relationship between barrister characteristics - particularly gender and ethnicity - and the outcomes of complaints against barristers, and the likelihood of practising barristers being subject to a complaint during this period. You can read a summary of the findings from the analysis in the online version of this month’s Regulatory Update.
On 1 July, the Legal Services Board (LSB), which monitors the performance of all the frontline legal services regulators, published their latest performance review of the BSB.
Their report was based on a review of three issues considered by the BSB Board in the period between April 2018 and March 2020, including a decision to stop funding the Legal Choices website with which the LSB disagreed. The report finds some improvements were needed to the way in which we took that decision in particular. The BSB Board has accepted the LSB’s findings in this respect and has agreed an action plan for developing our governance arrangements,although it adheres to its decision to withdraw from Legal Choices and instead to pursue public legal education through partnerships with organisations which work with consumers facing legal difficulties. Our action plan includes a review of the Public Legal Education Strategy to ensure that it is meeting its objectives.
We are clear that we should aim continually to improve our governance, including our engagement with consumers of barristers’ services. Accordingly, we have commissioned our own independent review of our Board’s governance which will report later this month, and have drawn up our own comprehensive plan to refresh our governance for the decade ahead. That action plan takes full account of the LSB’s findings, but reflects the Board’s and senior management’s own assessment of where improvement is needed.
Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update