Concerns rise over the conduct of barristers

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published its annual Enforcement Report this month. The report provides an overview of the BSB’s work enforcing the professional obligations of barristers, as set out in the BSB Handbook.

While warning that some the report’s findings have been skewed by an unprecedented number of complaints against a single barrister, it advises that for the period 2016/17:

  • There were 960 pre-complaints (being instances where information is received – other than from the public – which may indicate a breach of the Handbook), a 9% increase on the previous period;
  • There were 110 reports of serious misconduct received from barristers, a rise of 38% on the previous period;
  • The total number of external complaints (from members of the public, solicitors and other professionals) and internal complaints (those raised by the BSB on its own motion) actually fell to 366, the lowest level for five years;
  • Of the external complaints made, 49 (19%) were received from civil law litigants, while 35 (14%) were received from family law litigants;
  • Of the external complaints made, 48 concerned an allegation of misleading the court, while 41 related to making misleading submissions or statements.

It is important to note that misconduct by a barrister will not, by itself, guarantee the success of a professional negligence claim. However, it can certainly be a material factor and one that justifies making further enquiries where financial loss has been suffered.

You can view the full BSB report here.

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