In July the Bar Standards Board (BSB) launched a three-month public consultation on our proposed approach to the regulation of non-professional conduct and on barristers’ use of social media. Simultaneously, interim Social Media Guidance was published, which will be updated following the consultation. The consultation is due to close shortly, and any responses must be submitted to by 20 October 2022 at 5pm.
The consultation documents and interim Social Media Guidance were both developed with input from a stakeholder reference group consisting of external experts (including practising barristers) and BSB Board members.
The BSB is seeking to clarify where the boundaries should lie in the regulation of conduct that occurs in a barrister’s private/personal life (which we refer to as “non-professional life” or “non-professional conduct”), taking account of the circumstances where it is accepted in case law that it might be legitimate for regulators to intervene. Non-professional conduct may be of regulatory interest to us because barristers’ conduct in their private/personal lives can have an impact upon the public’s confidence in them as individual barristers or in the wider profession. Regulation must therefore balance barristers’ human rights against the public interest in preserving public confidence.
The BSB is also revising its Social Media Guidance (which applies to barristers in both their professional and non-professional lives) and seeking to strike the right balance between regulatory intervention in relation to social media use and freedom of expression (as protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998). A revised Social Media Guidance document is included in the consultation, but in the interim, we have published a revision of the current guidance.
The full consultation documents can be accessed on the BSB website. Responses can be submitted via an online digital survey, or by using the form on the BSB website and sending it to CNPL@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk by 20 October 2022 at 5pm.