25 July 2012

“Change is urgently needed” - Bar Standards Board warns the Council of the Inns of Court.

The Bar Standards Board has outlined several points for improvement in a strongly worded response to the Council of the Inns of Court's (COIC) review of Disciplinary Tribunals and Hearings. COIC instigated a root and branch review of its tribunal's service last November.

In particular, the Bar Standards Board has made it clear that COIC must establish itself as a legal entity in order that legally binding arrangements can be made. The response also outlined concerns that COIC is not committing sufficient resources to its tribunal and adjudication services.

Chair of the Bar Standards Board Baroness Deech said: "To ensure there is confidence in the disciplinary tribunals system, change is urgently needed.

"While it is important that COIC remain at arm's length to preserve the independence of tribunals, we have a statutory responsibility to ensure it is able to deliver an effective service. In order to oversee this in the future, we are creating a separate role to provide on-going management of our requirements and relationships."

Additional points detailed in the response include:

  • Regular appraisal of non-judicial panel members to ensure they are performing their roles effectively and are suitable for reappointment.
  • A review of the improvement timetable with the aim of completing the work by April 2013.
  • Research into the appropriate number of years a panel member should serve
  • The introduction of a period of 'quarantine' before former members of Bar Standards Board and the Bar Council can become tribunal members
  • The use of external expertise to implement a proper system for keeping records.