The keeping of records in publicly-funded work

The Legal Services Commission, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service, has recently raised concerns regarding the keeping of records by barristers in publicly-funded work. The BSB therefore wishes to remind barristers of their duty to give proper regard to the guidance in this area given in Section 6 of the Practice Management Guidelines.

The relevant guidance is as follows:

4 Completion Chambers should have documented procedures to ensure that, on completion of a case or instructions:
4.1 all work undertaken has been properly recorded, the fees assessed and noted and fee note submitted;
4.2 papers are promptly returned to professional clients, otherwise disposed of or retained, as they may require but always having regard for the content of documentation - which could contain records of personal data. As a data controller in respect of such personal data,
 t should not be disposed of incautiously. The contents may also be confidential or sensitive and therefore require shredding. The date and method of despatch, and details of the documents returned, must be recorded. It is essential however that counsel or chambers has such documentary proof as is necessary to respond to any complaint, or to justify the fees claimed in the event of a dispute or the necessity of taking legal action to recover unpaid fees;
4.3 records, including counsel's notebook(s), notes of the final results or disposal and copies (possibly in the form of computer records) of counsel's advices etc are retained under chambers or individual arrangements for a defined and appropriate period. This period will differ according to circumstances and the type of work undertaken but is unlikely to be less than six years. However, the nature of the personal data held and the requirement for its retention in respect of any future claims should also be considered. No records should be held longer than is necessary for such purposes.


The full text of the Practice Management Guidelines can be found at: http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/guidance/practicemanagementguidelines/

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