Barristers risk being overwhelmed by continual updates to their handbook, the Bar Council has claimed, urging the regulator not to impose new rules unless strictly necessary.
In response to the Bar Standards Board’s ‘Call for Evidence to help improve BSB Handbook’, the Bar Council told the regulator not to make any significant alterations ‘unless there is evidence and justification for such change’.
It claimed that ‘a fundamental reconsideration of the approach will likely bring further, avoidable confusion and disruption to the profession and their practice’ and suggested ethical advisers to barristers would have to be re-trained.
Three versions of the BSB handbook have already been published this year, according to the Bar Council, which warned: ‘Such frequency of updates risks being overwhelming to the practising bar. The dangers of such continual amendment may ultimately be counter-productive to effective regulation.’
On the current handbook, the Bar Council said the order of the guidance ‘is not intuitive’ and the ‘outcomes’ of rules are 'somewhat vague, and not particularly useful for practical interpretation of a barrister’s conduct in any given scenario’.
In June the BSB called for evidence to help it scope a planned review of its handbook - the document which includes the code of conduct for barristers and the rules with which they must comply.
The review is part of the BSB’s strategic plan for 2019-2022 and is aimed to ensure the handbook remains ‘fit for purpose, relevant and accessible’.