20 August 2019

BSB improves efficiency in complaint handling

28 September 2018

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its Enforcement Report for 2017-18.

The report provides an overview of the regulator's enforcement work during the year and includes statistics about the volume, trends and outcomes of complaints about barristers, including disciplinary proceedings.

The report shows that timeliness in handling complaints has generally improved. Over 84% of cases were completed within the BSB's service standards, the highest performance since records began in 2013-14. The average time it took to conclude cases of all types also decreased from 2.8 months in 2016-17 to 1.8 months this year which is a reduction of 60% since 2014-15.

Other statistical information in the report includes:

  • the volume of enquiries and reports about possible misconduct by barristers (known as "pre-complaints") received by the BSB rose to 1,024 in 2017-18 from 963 in 2016-17; 
  • the number of complaints about barristers increased significantly in 2017-18, up 29% on last year with 475 formal complaints being made - the highest number of new complaints opened in one year since 2013-14;
  • reports from the profession about serious misconduct increased to 133 this year compared to 110 in 2016-17. 44% of all such reports were assessed as not requiring regulatory action, indicating that the Bar is still erring on the side of caution when making reports; 
  • reports of sexual harassment by barristers increased from none in 2016-17 to eight in 2017-18. Of those eight, three resulted in formal complaints being raised by the BSB. Two of these resulted in referrals to disciplinary action and one is awaiting consideration by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC). 
  • of all the complaints received or raised during the year, fewer were referred to disciplinary action this year compared to last year - down from 62 in 2016-17 to 47 in 2017-18; and 
  • the number of barristers disbarred in 2017-18 went down substantially from 20 in 2016-17 to six in 2017-18.

Commenting on the latest report, the BSB's Director of Professional Conduct, Sara Jagger, said: "Our role is to ensure that standards at the Bar are maintained. It is important that people have trust and confidence in the way we do this. The report published today shows that we are taking appropriate action against the small number of barristers whose professional conduct falls short of the standards expected. I am pleased that over the last year we have been able to increase efficiency in many areas of the enforcement system but recognise that there is always room for improvement."

Read the full Enforcement Report 2017-18 on the BSB website.

In July, the BSB published its full Annual Report which contains a summary of our other regulatory work during 2017-18, which you can read on the BSB website.


Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk .