The bar regulator has published guidance both for barristers reacting to feedback and for members of the public reviewing a barrister’s services, as it warns that comparison websites specifically for barristers are likely to appear in the future.
The guidance comes in response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s encouragement for legal service providers to engage with feedback and review platforms.
Although the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has not recommended a direct way to manage feedback the guidance said online comparison tools will be an area to watch in the future. 'Currently there are no independent online feedback platforms exclusively for barristers although there are likely to be in the future,’ the guidance added.
However, representative body the Bar Council said such tools could pose real dangers and warned that ‘instructing a member of the bar is not the same as buying a stereo’. The council added that clients are often not well placed to judge the quality of the advice or representation they have received.
This is also echoed in the BSB’s guidance which points out that, unlike with hotels or restaurants, it is difficult for a client to assess whether or not their case has been well represented because this involves ‘highly specialist skills and knowledge’.
‘Clients may sometimes simply equate the quality of their barrister with whether or not they won their case,’ the guidance adds.
Oliver Hanmer, director of regulatory assurance at the BSB, said: ‘Many at the bar have mechanisms in place to obtain feedback and this guidance is designed to help build on those arrangements but also to encourage others to introduce them. We hope that our guidance to the public on how to provide feedback will make this easier.’