Changes to the Complaints Rules – Annexe J

The Rules have been revised substantially as a result of the transfer, on 6 October 2010, of the BSB’s jurisdiction over “service” complaints to the Legal Ombudsman. All references to “inadequate professional service”, and any functions or powers related to such complaints, have also been removed; as at 6 October 2010, the Rules contained transitional provisions to cover referral of lay client complaints to the Legal Ombudsman (Rule 14).

The BSB has until 31 March 2011 to determine IPS complaints received prior to 6 October 2010. As a result, the Rules give the BSB interim powers to deal with such complaints between 1 January and 31 March 2011 (Rule 8 and Schedule 2).

The Complaints Commissioner’s role in determining complaints has been removed, and all decisions making powers are now vested in the Complaints Committee. Under Rule 4 of the Complaints Rules 2011, authority will be given by the Committee to staff members of the Professional Conduct Department, and to certain Committee members and groups of the Committee, to take decisions on complaints.

The Rules further clarify the “test” to be applied when deciding whether a complaint should be referred to disciplinary action; the “prima facie” test has been replaced with “a realistic prospect of a finding professional misconduct being made against a barrister”. Criteria for accepting complaints submitted outside the 12 month time limit have also been revised. These amendments took effect from 1 January 2011.

Changes to the Fitness to Practise Rules – Annexe O

The amendments to the Fitness to Practise Rules, in the main, consist of replacing the Commissioner’s powers to refer cases to Fitness to Practise panels with Committee powers to do so. As well as updating terminology used in the Rules, the word “defendant” has been replaced with “barrister”, given that the Fitness Practise process is not disciplinary in nature. The amendments took effect from 1 January 2011.

Changes to the Interim Suspension Rules – Annexe N

The amendments to the Annexe are limited to the removal of the Commissioner’s power to refer barristers to an Interim Suspension panel, updating the Rules to bring them in line with the Disciplinary Regulations, as well as the revised terminology. The amendments took effect from 1 January 2011.