A compulsory questionnaire has been sent to all chambers so the BSB can gain information on whether and how they comply with regulatory requirements.
Under the scheme, the BSB may visit chambers to get a feel for how the administration and management of chambers functions. Where non-compliance is identified, the BSB will ask chambers for suggestions on how it can be addressed and work with them to meet the standards required. The BSB emphasises that disciplinary action will be a last resort that will be taken only after attempts to assist chambers have failed.
Sam Stein QC, Chair of the BSB’s Quality Assurance Committee, and Oliver Hanmer, the BSB’s professional practice manager, said: “The monitoring scheme provides an opportunity for an independent ‘health check’ of chambers” procedures and processes and, where necessary, expert advice to be given on how these can be improved.
“At first blush, chambers monitoring may appear to be the BSB taking on the role of Big Brother, but the reality is different. The intention is not to catch chambers out but to ensure that they are complying with certain regulatory requirements and to give practical assistance where necessary.
“Good practice will be identified and shared across chambers and non-compliant chambers will be given every opportunity and assistance to address this.”
Once the monitoring process is underway, a kitemark may be developed, which chambers could use for marketing purposes.
This year’s monitoring programme will focus on four areas: chambers complaints handling; pupillage; equality and diversity; and compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.