The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published a new edition of its Handbook which, it states, will modernise the way in which it undertakes its regulatory decision-making.
The changes reflect, says the BSB, a new and more efficient Regulatory Operations regime and implements the results of a consultation undertaken on last year. The Regulations, which do not alter the obligations on barristers, are designed to streamline and improve the way in which the BSB assesses and handles reports about those whom it regulates.
The reforms include the establishment of a new Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) which has been created to take independent enforcement and other regulatory decisions, replacing the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) and the Authorisations Review Panel (ARP)
A new Independent Reviewer role has also been created to carry out requests for the review of individual decisions, as well as periodic audits of cases to give assurance that the BSB’s regulatory decision-making is operating fairly and effectively and in line with agreed policies and procedures.
As part of the changes, all incoming queries and information sent to the BSB will be assessed centrally. This single point of initial contact will make sending information to the BSB easier for members of the public and barristers. It will also help the BSB to assess risks more consistently and to ensure that they are always addressed appropriately, thereby enhancing its risk-based approach to regulation.
The BSB has today also launched a new website which will make it easier for the profession and the public to access the information they need. It includes dedicated sections for the public, for students and for barristers and other legal professionals, containing everything they need to know about BSB rules and guidance. The new site also contains enhanced information for consumers including advice about how to access legal services, how to find and use a barrister, and how to report a concern to the BSB. In addition, a new BSB Handbook feature will make searching for specific rules simpler and easier, without having to download the Handbook.
BSB Director of Legal and Enforcement, Sara Jagger, said:
“I am delighted that we are today implementing these reforms to our regulatory decision-making. These changes will enable us to deal with information we receive and take individual regulatory decisions more efficiently, while continuing to ensure that the decisions we make are the right ones. Our new website will make the work we do in the public interest more accessible than ever before”.
Further details can be found on the BSB website