23 May 2019

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair, Baroness Blackstone

At the end of March, we published our Strategic Plan for 2019-22, our Business Plan for 2019-20, and our latest Risk Outlook on the market for barristers' services.  

The Strategic Plan explains our three main priorities for the next three years, which are:

  • delivering risk-based, targeted and effective regulation;
  • encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession; and
  • advancing access to justice in a changing market.

This Plan follows a strategic period which saw us introduce a number of new policy initiatives such as our reforms to the rules governing Bar training, changes to our disciplinary and enforcement processes, and our proposed new transparency rules in response to the report of the Competition and Markets Authority. Our key priority must now be to ensure that those reforms are successfully implemented and evaluated. So the next three years will involve fewer new policy initiatives, fewer consultations and fewer rule changes.

Over the next few years, we also want to examine some important areas, such as how technology is changing legal practice and the justice system, and the impact of other developments, including the changes to legal aid, on the achievement of our regulatory objectives. You can read more about our Strategic Plan, our Risk Outlook and our 2019-20 Business Plan on our website. [LINK TO ONLINE RU ARTICLE]

Earlier this month, we published a new edition of the BSB Handbook which sees new Bar qualification rules come into force. The new rules will enable the programme of reform known as Future Bar Training to be implemented and are designed to ensure that training to become a barrister is more accessible, affordable and flexible whilst maintaining the high standards of entry expected at the Bar.

We also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Inns of Court which recognises the vital role that the Inns will continue to have in the education, training and qualification of barristers following the launch of the new qualification rules.

The latest edition of the Handbook also adopts the civil standard of proof for professional misconduct proceedings arising from alleged breaches of the Code by barristers occurring after 31 March 2019. The criminal standard will continue to be applied to alleged professional misconduct that occurred before that date. This change comes after a public consultation in 2017 and will bring the Bar's disciplinary arrangements in line with those of most other professional regulators. You can read more about this on our website. [LINK TO ONLINE RU ARTICLE