15 March 2013

BSB’s monitoring programme improves compliance, shows new report

BSB's monitoring programme improves compliance, shows new report

A new report published recently by the Bar Standards Board shows the benefits of its recent monitoring programme.

624 chambers were included in the latest Chambers Monitoring programme and the vast majority (83%) were compliant in all areas covered.

Of the 104 chambers that were non-compliant in one area or more, the most frequent problems were:

• Not having a written complaints procedure
• Not providing clients who were considering a complaint with a copy of their complaints procedure
• Not informing clients of the existence of the Legal Ombudsman

All of the chambers have since addressed these issues and have systems and procedures that will ensure future compliance.

BSB Head of Quality Oliver Hanmer said: "The results are a strong endorsement for our approach to supervision and I'm convinced our new risk based monitoring scheme will help improve compliance further still. We achieved a 98% participation rate and chambers proved willing to reflect upon areas where they may not be fully compliant and to address these concerns without the need for us to resort to enforcement action."

These statistics have emerged just a few weeks after the BSB launched a consultation on the introduction of a new risk-based supervision scheme.

The consultation outlines proposals to build upon the chambers monitoring programme to develop a more comprehensive, risk-based approach to supervision. This will ensure that supervision becomes an increasingly credible and proportionate alternative to enforcement action for addressing non-compliance.

Notes to editors

• The Chambers Monitoring Report series shows compliance across the profession as a whole. Some 635 chambers were provided with a Chambers Monitoring questionnaire and, of these, 624 responded - representing a response rate of 98%.

• Of the 624 chambers that completed the questionnaire, 83% were given a low risk rating (compliant in all areas), 13% a medium risk rating and 4% received a high risk rating. All chambers given medium or high risk rating have since addressed the identified areas of non-compliance.

• The Chambers Monitoring questionnaire was created on a software programme called SNAP and emailed to all Heads of Chambers and to clerks where the email address was available. Where no email address was available, chambers were posted a copy of the questionnaire and guidance. 

• The previous Chambers Monitoring Scheme was launched on 18 October 2010 to ensure that all 730 Chambers within the UK were contacted to verify compliance in four main areas:

o Chambers Complaints Handling;
o Pupillage;
o Equality and Diversity; and
o Money Laundering

• The BSB's 'Risk Assessment Supervision' consultation was launched on 26 February 2013. Take part in the consultation here or email SIssop@barstandardsboard.org.uk

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111392.