21 August 2019

New BSB report shows more targeted use of enforcement powers

8 August 2016

The Bar Standards Board has, today, published its Enforcement Annual Report for 2015-16.

This report provides an overview of the regulator's enforcement work during the year and includes a number of statistics about the volume and outcome of complaints of professional misconduct about barristers.

The report highlights how taking a risk-based approach to enforcement - focusing attention on situations that pose the biggest threat to the public - has enabled the regulator to make significant improvements to its complaints-handling processes.

The report shows that: 

  • The BSB came to a decision on 552 complaints during 2015/16, compared with 363 during 2014/15;
  • During 2015/16, 33 per cent of all complaint outcomes were either referrals for disciplinary action or administrative sanctions (warnings and low level fines). This compares to 23 per cent during 2014/15;
  • 106 new referrals about barristers' professional conduct (19 per cent of outcomes) were made for disciplinary action during the year. This represents a similar proportion to the 70 referrals (20 per cent) in 2014/15. Under the BSB's risk-based approach to enforcement, disciplinary action is reserved for the most serious cases;
  • During the year, 76 administrative sanctions (14 per cent of outcomes) were imposed - a significant rise from the 11 (3 per cent) in 2014-15;
  • The amount of time taken to conclude cases or refer them to disciplinary action was shorter compared with the previous year, with 75.7 per cent of cases concluded or referred within agreed time periods - however this was still below the target of 80 per cent; and
  • There is a strong correlation between the outcomes of complaints and the perceived openness and transparency of the way in which complaints are investigated.  That is, complainants are more likely to have a favourable view of the process if the outcome led to enforcement action being taken. The BSB will continue to work on this area to inform and manage the expectations of complainants when they report potential issues of misconduct.

Commenting on the Enforcement Annual Report, the BSB's Director of Professional Conduct Sara Jagger said: "The BSB Enforcement Annual Report shows that our risk-based approach has allowed us to take a more proportionate approach to enforcement action.  We will continue to develop our approach to risk and monitor the Key Performance Indicators shown in our report carefully."

Read the full BSB Enforcement Annual Report 2015-16 here.


Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and 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