Barristers could be required to reveal how much of their income is derived from public access work under proposals outlined by the bar regulator.
In a consultation paper published by the Bar Standards Board, the regulator says obtaining the information would help it ‘understand the practitioners it monitors and regulates’ so that it can be more focused.
Under the proposals, barristers renewing their practising certificate would need to provide information on their areas of practice and how much money they receive for each. Public access barristers would need to reveal the percentage of their income derived from public access work, the paper said.
The information will not be published but used by the BSB for ‘permitted purposes’.
The proposals also call for barristers to register whether they have or intend to carry out work involving young people or at a youth court. This move follows the decision by the BSB earlier this year to publish guidance on youth court advocacy in a bid to improve standards.
The BSB said if some barristers lack the specialist communication skills required in proceedings involving young people there is a risk that some clients may not receive adequate representation.
According to the BSB, it would use the information on youth courts to inform how it supervises barristers – including potentially tailoring continuing professional development for those who have registered to work in proceedings involving young people.
It acknowledges that there may be situations where instructions are received at late notice and where a barrister does not have time to register before a trial. The BSB said that in these situations, barristers will need to comply with the requirements in the BSB handbook, which state that they should take on the case only if they are competent, and have sufficient experience.
The consultation also recommends that barristers identify whether they are undertaking, or intend to undertake, work that falls within the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 which come into force later this month.
Ewen MacLeod, director of strategy and policy at the BSB, said: ‘These changes will ensure that we have a more complete picture of barristers’ practices. We consider this necessary to help us identify trends over time, to target our regulation at areas where it is most needed, and to help us monitor the appropriateness of barristers’ CPD plans.’
The consultation closes on 15 September.