Question mark of fairness of complaints process


More than 400 complaints were made against barristers last year, with one in ten concerning two members from the same chambers, the annual enforcement report from the Bar Standards Board revealed.

A total of 433 complaints were opened in 2015/16, a 2% fall on the previous year. Of those, 299 were external complaints, received from clients, members of the public, solicitors or other professionals and organisations. The most common allegations were failing to cooperate with the Legal Ombudsman (17%) and discreditable or dishonest conduct (18%).

There were 134 complaints raised by the BSB itself, for breaches of the Handbook.

The report showed that two barristers at one unnamed set accounted for 48 (11%) of all new complaints raised in 2015/16.

Elsewhere in the report, 79% of barristers agreed that the enforcement process was open and fair and only 8% disagreed. But for complainants, 69% disagreed that the process was fair and open and only 14% agreed.

Of the complainants, 69% felt that the BSB had not considered all of the evidence relating to their complaint and 63% disagreed that the reasons for the final outcome were clear.

A BSB spokesperson said: ‘Satisfaction rates correlate with outcomes. There is a high proportion of external complaints which we dismiss, or do not result in a disciplinary tribunal.’ The BSB said it will continue to work with complainants to inform them and manage expectations.

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