22 July 2013

BSB reviews the regulation of immigration advice and services

Praise from clients for the quality of advice provided by immigration barristers is showcased by new consumer research, published today by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

The independent research - by IFF research - explored clients' experiences of immigration advice and services. This is the latest piece of evidence collected in a year-long review by the BSB into whether the current regulatory arrangements provide sufficient protection to consumers of immigration advice and services.

The BSB gathered evidence from a range of sources, including a roundtable event with immigration practitioners, other regulators and representative bodies; spot-checks on continuing professional development data; and data gathered from chambers monitoring.

After considering all of the evidence the BSB has concluded that it is not necessary to amend its regulatory arrangements in respect of immigration advice and services.

The new report, entitled 'Immigration Client Experience Research', identified a number of issues including a heavy reliance among clients on word-of-mouth to find legal advisers and confusion about the role of the barrister. The BSB has developed an action plan to address these points.

Head of Professional Practice at the Bar Standards Board, Ewen MacLeod, said: "Those seeking immigration and asylum advice are often especially vulnerable and it was important to see whether we needed to provide any further regulatory protection. It's good news that the evidence shows that this is not currently necessary and that most people are getting a good service.

"However, it's clear we can do more to ensure targeted communication to consumers and practitioners in this area. As part of the actions identified we will be exploring ways of working with agencies that support immigration and asylum services to get information directly to their clients. We will also continue to monitor this area and conduct a further review in 2015."

The introduction of the new BSB Handbook (which is due to be launched in January 2014) and on-going information gathering through new risk assessment and supervision regimes will assist the BSB in assessing whether the outcomes in the new Handbook continue to provide sufficient protection to consumers of immigration advice and services.

To read the IFF report in full, click here.

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Notes to editors

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111392