The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its latest annual report summarising its activities during the 2020-21 business year.
During the period covered in this Report, the effects of the pandemic were felt in many aspects of the BSB’s work. The Annual Report describes what the BSB did in response to the national measures taken to respond to the health emergency including analysing the risks to the Regulatory Objectives, maintaining Bar training and enabling Bar students to progress their careers, and ensuring that the BSB maintained its services and cared for the well-being of its people.
Despite the effects of the pandemic, progress was made in a number of important areas. These included:
- reinvigorating efforts with the profession to promote equality and diversity at the Bar including the publication of an Anti-Racist Statement requiring action from all barristers’ practices;
- continuing work to tackle bullying, discrimination and harassment at the Bar; and
- issuing a Regulatory Return questionnaire to assess risk within barristers’ practices and to understand better the levels of compliance with BSB rules.
The report also describes the day-to-day tasks undertaken by the BSB when regulating barristers and specialised legal businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. This work includes overseeing the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, monitoring the standards of conduct of barristers, and assuring the public that everyone it authorises to practise is competent to do so. To demonstrate these aspects of the BSB’s work, the report shows that:
- as of 31 March 2021, there were 17,123 registered barristers in England and Wales as well as 138 specialised legal services businesses regulated by the BSB;
- during 2020-21, 2,373 applications for waivers and exemptions from BSB rules were processed – a significant increase compared with the previous year; and
- during 2020-21, 20 barristers had a disciplinary finding against them of whom nine were suspended and four were disbarred.
Further information about the regulator’s authorisations and enforcement work during the year will be made available in a separate report on its regulatory decision-making to be published in the autumn.
BSB Director-General, Mark Neale, said:
“As it was for the profession we regulate, 2020-21 was a challenging year for the BSB. By focusing on the risks to our Regulatory Objectives caused by the pandemic, we were able to prioritise our work and our resources accordingly. We also made good progress in a number of areas including in our work to promote equality and diversity at the Bar.”
Read the full BSB Annual Report 2020-21 online.
The BSB has also published a separate document alongside its Annual Report, the “Cost Transparency Metrics for 2020-21” which seeks to summarise and explain the regulator’s costs.