Bar representative body the Bar Council has exerted its authority over regulator the Bar Standards Board (BSB), persuading it to scale back its proposals for dealing with information it receives from third parties about barristers and chambers.
At a board meeting last night, the BSB agreed it would not drop the term ‘complaints’ and replace it with ‘information’. It also agreed that enforcement decisions should be taken by five person panels rather than three.
Both amendments to the BSB’s original proposals were made after the Bar Council expressed concerns.
In its original plan, announced in March, the BSB said it wanted to create an ‘independent decision-making body’, consisting of a pool of 30 lay and barrister members from which panels of ‘three or more’ would be nominated to take individual regulatory decisions. It would replace the professional conduct committee (PCC), which consists of 32 lay and barrister members, divided into two teams.
During the meeting, it was noted that the Bar Council was ‘fundamentally opposed’ to disestablishing the PCC but that it accepted it was too large. Instead it recommended that five person panels should be the default. The BSB agreed, noting that it would amend its proposals to provide that enforcement decisions are taken by five person panels with a lay majority.
On adopting the term ‘information’ the BSB noted that there was ‘unsurprising’ opposition, including from the council which said in its consultation response that the term was ‘potentially opaque or vague’.
Other suggestions included ‘reporting a concern’ and ‘person who raised a complaint’ – rather than ‘complainant’. The BSB said it would decide at a later date what term to opt for.
The BSB will seek formal approval of its proposals with the Legal Services Board in September.