23 September 2019

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Sir Andrew Burns KCMG

We have just published our fourth Strategic Plan, this time for 2016-2019. At the same time we have published for the first time a Risk Outlook which seeks to peer into the crystal ball. Our objectives are as clear as we can make them at a time when the government is planning to launch a new consultation on the future framework of legal services regulation. Moreover we are very aware that we must ensure value for money. The Plan confirms that our direct operating costs will reduce by four per cent in 2016-17 and the Board will keep costs at this reduced baseline for the three year duration of the Plan.

This is why risk-based regulation is so important. It means we can target our resources to the areas where they can make the most difference. We have identified three risk areas, which are:

  • To help the profession meet consumer need.
  • To address the lack of diversity in the profession and to enhance equality.
  • To help the profession to respond to commercial pressures.

We have already hit the ground running in addressing all three of these risk areas. Some examples of what we are doing include:

  • Addressing what women practising at the Bar have told us about how the equality rules in the BSB Handbook are working to support career progression and combat discrimination;
  • Working with other regulators, like  the Solicitors Regulation Authority and CILEx Regulation, to improve standards of advocacy within the youth justice system; and
  • Getting the authority to license Alternative Business Structures for advocacy-focussed practices which will allow lawyers and non-lawyers jointly to own businesses that provide advocacy services, thus  each bringing their own expertise to the legal services  market, diversifying consumer choice.

The next few years will be critical in ensuring that the market for barristers' services is sustainable in the long term and exists in a way that gives fair access to everyone. We shall continue to work to ensure that the public can have full confidence in the Bar, in the interests of the rule of law and genuine access to justice for all.

Read our complete Strategic Plan on our website.