15 February 2013

New 'risk-based' approach to supervision approved

The Bar Standards Board has approved a consultation on a new approach to the supervision of chambers and barristers.

The new approach will seek to target resources at those most likely to breach the Code of Conduct. The aim is to prevent problems before they happen by informing those chambers who are identified as higher risk and signposting available support. Enforcement action will be reserved for the most serious or persistent cases.

The BSB will evaluate where the areas of risk are and take into account matters like disciplinary history but also good practice measures. This process will map out who needs what level of supervision and support to prevent non-compliance.

The consultation will be rolled out in March.

Chair of the Bar Standards Board Quality Assurance Committee, Sam Stein QC,explained; "Prevention is better than cure. The new regime will seek to develop positive relationships with chambers which increases our focus on supervision as a way of working with the bar to ensure that enforcement is needed only at the last resort. "It is in the public interest and cost effective to focus on preventing problems before they occur."

The proposed new approach will build on the successful Chambers' Monitoring scheme which started in 2010 and was repeated in 2012.

The 2012 Chambers' Monitoring Report which was also presented at the meeting, revealed that the vast majority of chambers were already compliant with the Code of Conduct. However, it highlighted a small but significant minority that might benefit from the support offered by this new approach. 

The BSB has developed its new proposals in the light of the new BSB Handbook and the prospect of the BSB regulating entities, both of which are expected to come into force in the course of 2014.