23 September 2019

BSB meets its efficiency targets for handling complaints

This week, we published our Enforcement Annual Report for 2016-17.

The report provides an overview of our 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 demonstrates how we targeted most of the attention of our Professional Conduct Department on situations where the most serious instances of misconduct by barristers may have taken place. This continues the trends seen in recent years and has enabled us to make further improvements in the efficiency of our complaints-handing processes.

The main statistical findings in the report are as follows:

  • The volume of enquiries and reports about possible misconduct by barristers (known as "pre-complaints") received by us went up in 2016-17 - 960 this year compared with 882 in 2015-16;
  • Reports of serious misconduct increased with 110 such reports being received in 2016/17 as compared to 80 in 2015/16. This figure includes instances of barristers self-reporting their own potential misconduct to us. Only 53% of these reports resulted in a formal complaint being raised, showing that barristers are rightly erring on the side of caution when electing to contact their regulator about their conduct;
  • Fewer of the enquiries and reports received led to actual formal complaints being opened this year (366) compared with 434 last year. And fewer cases were referred to disciplinary action this year too - down from 53 last year to 46 in 2016/17;
  • The number of barristers disbarred in 2016-17 increased from seven in the previous year to 19; and
  • For the first time in three years, over 80% of complaints were concluded by us at the initial assessment and investigation stages within the service standards of eight weeks for initial assessment and six months for the investigation stage.