The Bar Standards Board has published its fourth updated handbook in the space of 12 months, tweaking rules around disciplinary tribunals and amending its own relationship with the Bar Council.

The 182-page document is the fourth handbook to be issued since September 2019, and the seventh since the start of last year.

‘Version 4.5’ aims to further enhance the BSB’s regulatory independence, including by requiring that the annual 'authorisation to practise process' and issue of practising certificates is undertaken by the BSB, rather than the Bar Council.

The updated version also includes amendments to disciplinary tribunal rules which enable disciplinary tribunals to rely on wasted cost orders as proof of misconduct occurring, and clarifies that directions judges have the discretion to make cost orders.

It also makes it clear that barristers have a duty to co-operate with their regulators including all relevant regulators and ombudsman schemes.

Last year, the Bar Council warned that barristers risk being overwhelmed by continual updates to their handbook and urged the regulator not to impose new rules unless strictly necessary.

Introducing the new document, BSB chair Baroness Blackstone said the handbook has ‘become less easy to use’ as it has developed over the years. ‘We have therefore announced a review of the handbook to ensure that it remains fit for purpose, relevant, and accessible,’ she said.

A BSB spokesperson added: ‘I am pleased that this new version of the handbook reflects the important changes recently made to the internal governance rules. Together with the other amendments we have announced today, this will further enhance the independence and the effectiveness of our regulation.’