08 April 2013

Barrister Conduct ‘Trends and Performance’ Report Released

The Bar Standards Board's Professional Conduct Department (PCD) has today released its third quarter 'trends and performance' report.

The report provides a detailed summary of the PCD's activities - including the number of new and on-going complaints, and the proportion of these referred to investigation or disciplinary proceedings - between 1st October and 31st December 2012.

The number of complaints from litigants conducting legal proceedings on their own behalf has remained at the high level seen in recent quarters. However, most of these complaints are dismissed - as are the vast majority (84%) of external complaints - mainly due to a lack of evidence of any breach of the code.

Previous research by the BSB revealed a lack of knowledge of legal processes among over half (57%) of litigant-in-person complainants. The review, published in 2011, showed that where a litigant in person has not understood the adversarial nature of the Courts, the likelihood of a complaint being made against a barrister increases.

The number of members of the public representing themselves in court and at tribunals has increased as a direct result of reforms to legal aid and this in turn has led to a rise in the number of complaints received by the BSB from litigants in person.

The Bar Council has this week published guidance to help litigants in person familiarise themselves with the legal process and prepare their case to help the public but also reduce the amount of unnecessary complaints against barristers.  

Bar Standards Board Head of Professional Conduct Department Sara Down said: "That so many of allegations from litigants in person are dismissed due to insufficient evidence of any breach serves to show just how confusing and unfamiliar the legal process can be for members of the public. We welcome the Bar Council guidance which will help litigants in person better navigate the legal system."

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Notes to editors
• The Professional Conduct Department (PCD) works under the authority of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC). It investigates complaints and, where appropriate, assists the Committee in taking action against barristers who have breached the Code of Conduct.

• The third quarter report for the PCD provides a summary of activities for the period 1 October to 31 December 2012.

• The report can be accessed here.

• The Bar Council's guidance for litigants-in-person can be accessed here

• The PCD's thematic review into litigants-in-person can be accessed here.

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111392.