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The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is launching a scheme today that will monitor over 700 chambers and sole practitioners.
Barristers' chambers will be asked to complete an online questionnaire which will assess whether and how they comply with the Bar's Code of Conduct. The questionnaire will focus on complaints handling, pupillage, equality and diversity and money laundering. Completion of the questionnaire will be compulsory and non-return could give rise to disciplinary action.
Once completed, the results will be analysed and where non-compliance is identified the BSB will contact chambers to discuss how it can be addressed and to agree appropriate follow up action. If the recommended remedial action is not taken, or there are serious concerns about the compliance of a particular set of chambers, the BSB may visit chambers and take further action, including disciplinary action.
Commenting on the monitoring process, Baroness Ruth Deech, Chairman of the Bar Standards Board said: "We take our responsibility as regulators seriously. Our new monitoring process will ensure that chambers and sole practitioners are aware of what is expected of them and will encourage them to meet these standards.
"The scheme also enables us to gather compliance data from all chambers to ensure that regulatory action is targeted in the right areas, whilst highlighting best practice and those achieving excellence. We are not looking to point the finger, but to assist all chambers to meet the requirements."
The questionnaire has been sent to all chambers today and the BSB aims to notify them within a month of the submission of the questionnaire of the outcome and whether any follow up action is required.