Regulatory Issues & Law Reform

In our third Spotlight, both members of the Bar Council's Regulatory Issues & Law Reform team share their top three picks of work from the last year, and looks ahead to the next.

Natalie Darby, Head of Policy: Regulatory Issues & Law Reform, picks hers:

  • BSB transparency consultation: After substantial engagement with the Competition and Markets Authority's market study on competition in the legal services market in 2016, we submitted a detailed response to the BSB's consultation on implementing the CMA's transparency recommendations in January 2018. BSB proposals included controversial requirements for chambers to publish guideline prices in the abstract, and to publish first-tier complaints data. We spoke with a wide range of members of the profession to reflect their concerns in our response, which can be read here. The BSB is expected to publish draft rules in Autumn 2018 and we will continue to engage actively in the interests of the Bar and public at that time.

  • Law reform work:  The Bar Council's Law Reform Committee has had a busy period over the past year engaging with the Law Commission's review of sentencing legislation. The objective of this work is to produce a single consolidated sentencing code. The Commission has also just released its 13th programme of law reform, which includes their priority projects for the next four years. Two of our recommendations on residential leasehold and the law of surrogacy have been taken up, and we look forward to working with the Commission on these over the coming year. Any queries about our law reform work should be directed to LawReform@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  • Standard of proof: Last year, we undertook extensive research to inform our response to the BSB consultation on the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings, seeking the views of our members through circuit representatives and meetings with those who defend and prosecute barristers before disciplinary tribunals. We also met with Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service panel members, barristers who defend and prosecute in disciplinary tribunals of other professions (including solicitors) and barristers instructed in cases before the higher courts in which the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings has been examined. Our response seeks to reflect the views of our members and can be found here.

Sanjivi Krishnan, Policy Analyst: Regulatory Issues & Law Reform, gives his:

  • Engagement with the Legal Services Board: We continually engage with the LSB as it carries out its functions as oversight regulator of the profession, and some of our comments on its 2018-21 strategy resulted in changes to the final draft. We also recently submitted a substantial response to the LSB's consultation on the Internal Governance Rules (which aim to put into practice the principle of regulatory independence under the Legal Services Act 2007). Dialogue on this will continue between the LSB and the various approved regulators over the next year and beyond.

  • Chambers management: Our sold-out seminars last year on first-tier complaints handling (done in conjunction with the Legal Ombudsman) and fair allocation of work were very well received. We intend to build on them this year by covering other major topics in the running of chambers, and potentially developing webinars. Expect more on this in due course.

  • Direct Access Panel: Our team took over running this panel (a subcommittee of the Legal Services Committee) from the Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics team last year. In 2017 its members produced guidance on client care letters, insolvent clients and public access FAQs, as well as responding on behalf of the Bar Council to the BSB's consultation on amending the Public and Licensed Access Rules. For 2018, the panel has an expanded membership, will continue to develop guidance on direct access issues, and will play a role in safeguarding the public access Bar's interests around CMA recommendations affecting them. 

Read the Regulatory Issues & Law Reform team's bios here

Much of this important work by the Bar Council's Policy Team would not be possible without funding from the   Bar Representation Fee (BRF), a £8.34 per month subscription fee. Read more about what BRF funds  here.

Find out about the work of the Bar Council's Equality & Diversity Team

Find out about the work of the Bar Council's Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics Team