The chair of the Bar Council has politely reminded the Bar Standards Board to keep off the representative body’s territory. At the bimonthly meeting of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) last night the regulator sought approval of its strategic aims for 2019-2022. But Richard Atkins QC, chair of the Bar Council, said some of the specified aims appeared to ‘duplicate work the council is already doing’.
The BSB’s aims include ‘advancing access to justice in a changing market’ and ‘encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession’.
Atkins said these are ‘obvious areas that the bar council has an interest in.’ He added: ‘We [the Bar Council] don’t want to be in a position where we work on something only to find out it is already being done.’
A BSB board member said some of the aims noted might be better off being carried out by the ‘trade union as opposed to the regulator’. They added: ‘We should avoid this mission creep of doing things we should not be doing.’
Atkins noted that the council had already done a large amount of work on advancing access to justice and on creating a more diverse profession.
The relationship between the two bodies parallels that of the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority; the BSB’s regulatory functions were previously carried out by the Bar Council. Bar chairs past and present have since questioned the relationship between the two.
The BSB’s third strategic aim, announced last night, is to ‘deliver risk-based, targeted and effective regulation’.
BSB director-general Vanessa Davies, said: ‘Our latest analysis of the risks to our regulatory objectives has led us to confirm the three strategic aims outlined in our plan for the next three years.
‘The past three years have seen significant debates about our policies, particularly in the areas of training for the bar, the transparency which barristers offer their clients and the way in which we make regulatory decisions, especially in disciplinary cases. Now that these issues are settled it is time to ensure that the reforms we have agreed are successfully implemented.’