Enquiries about possible misconduct by barristers are on the rise, though fewer cases are making their way to the disciplinary tribunal, figures from the barristers’ regulator have revealed.
In its enforcement annual report, published today, the Bar Standards Board says it received 110 reports of serious misconduct this year, 37% up on the 80 received in 2015/16. However, only 53% of these reports resulted in a formal complaint being raised, the regulator said.
However, the number of barristers disbarred more than doubled. Just seven barristers were disbarred in 2015/16 compared with 19 this year.
The volume of initial enquiries and early-stage reports about possible misconduct by barristers also rose. The total number stood at 960, up from 882 last year.
The BSB said multiple complaints about one barrister – referred to as ‘barrister B’ - had impacted the figures. All sets of complaints about the barrister have now been concluded and the barrister disbarred, the BSB said.
Despite the rise in the number of enquires, only 46 cases were referred to the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service in 2016/17, down from 53 last year.
The report also showed that the time taken to address complaints has reduced. The average time for the BSB to conclude a complaint is now around three months compared with four and a half months two years ago.
Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct at the BSB, said: ‘It is important that everyone can have confidence in the conduct of barristers. This report shows that we are succeeding in our efforts to take action against the small number of barristers whose professional conduct poses the biggest risk to the public.’