The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published the latest version of the BSB Handbook which contains the Code of Conduct for barristers in England and Wales. This introduces new authorisation to practise requirements, streamlines the public and licensed access rules, and introduces new obligations for barristers and BSB regulated entities to comply with the new Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. The new rules mean that there are four new reporting requirements for barristers looking to apply for or renew their practising certificates.
In addition to the existing reporting requirements, barristers will now be asked to:
- provide information on their practice areas, including any public access work;
- declare work that falls within the scope of the new Anti-Money Laundering Regulations;
- register if they work in the Youth Courts, or intend to do so; and
- register their MyBar account with a unique email address to help the BSB to communicate with barristers more securely and effectively.
All practising certificate renewals and applications will now be submitted through the MyBar portal, which will be available towards the end of February. The new portal is designed to make the process easier and more efficient for barristers.
All barristers who work in the Youth Courts, or who intend to do so in the next 12 months, will be required to register with the BSB. By registering, barristers declare that they are competent against the Youth Proceedings competences and guidance.
For the BSB to comply with its obligations under the new Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, it needs to know which barristers are undertaking work that falls within the scope of the regulations. The government has set a new requirement for all relevant persons, including barristers who carry out work within the regulations, to obtain a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
The regulator has also removed the requirement for barristers of fewer than 3 years’ standing to maintain a public access log. This is in addition to a number of changes to streamline and simplify the public and licensed access rules.
These new requirements have come into effect following consultations by the Bar Standards Board last year and subsequent approval from the Legal Services Board If a barrister fails to comply with the new reporting requirements, then the BSB will not issue their practising certificate.
Pending the approval of the Legal Services Board for their removal, the rules concerning the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) remain in the Handbook but the BSB has made clear that this Scheme will not now be implemented.
The BSB’s Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: “We always seek to minimise the burden of regulation, as our changes to the public and licensed access rules show. However, to ensure we are properly risk-based in our approach to regulating in the interest of the public and legal consumers, we are introducing these four new requirements. It is in everybody’s interest that we are as informed as we can be. Understanding the type of work the Bar is doing will help us to target our regulation where it will most benefit clients. For example, the new requirements in relation to Youth Courts will enable us to provide more effective supervision and promote the specialist skills that this area of work requires. We also need to ensure compliance with the new Anti-Money Laundering Regulations in a way that is proportionate to the risks at the Bar. We hope that the introduction of MyBar will make disclosing all of our requirements easier and more efficient.”
You can download the new version of the BSB Handbook here.