A new rule clarifying how vulnerable witnesses give evidence is one of a set of new and updated disciplinary tribunal regulations published today in the new version of the BSB handbook. The revised Handbook also contains new rules about shared parental leave, in addition to some minor amendments to provide additional clarity.
The Bar Standards Board has updated eight areas overall in the disciplinary tribunal regulations, including rules concerning:
- The publication of reasons for the Tribunal Decision where charges have been dismissed;
- The handling of evidence and documents that are not submitted in line with directions of the Tribunal;
- Specific provisions to clarify the measures that can be put in place to help vulnerable witnesses give evidence;
- The removal of deferred sentences and an express power to postpone some suspensions in exceptional circumstances; and
- The removal of the Tribunal’s ability to remove a barrister’s “rights and privileges” as a member of their Inn.
The revised regulations seek to modernise and streamline existing regulations and were approved by the Legal Services Board (LSB) in June 2017.
These regulation and rule changes have been implemented following a public consultation.
The change to the parental leave rules also follows a public consultation and will require all chambers to have a policy that allows any member who becomes the carer of a child to take parental leave. Though the precise details of such policies are for individual chambers to decide, the new rule will require that flexible working arrangements must be available to members during their parental leave. Both the BSB and the Bar Council will be producing additional guidance on this change, and chambers will have until November 2018 to update their policies.
The BSB’s Director of Professional Conduct Sara Jagger said: “We are very grateful to all those who responded to these consultations. Thanks to them, we are now proposing fair, transparent and efficient changes to the disciplinary tribunal rules. We are committed to modernising and streamlining our disciplinary processes and ensuring that they operate as fairly and as efficiently as possible, for the benefit of all concerned.”
The BSB’s Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: “The BSB is pleased to introduce a fair and progressive parental leave rule and we hope that it will be of real benefit to barristers in seeking to balance caring responsibilities with their professional practice. We are going to produce additional guidance so that chambers can adopt this rule change appropriately in their updated policies. We look forward to working with Chambers to make this happen.”
You can download the new version of the BSB Handbook from the BSB website.
You can read the revised Disciplinary Tribunal Regulations on the BSB website.