Ignorance about fees, lack of public awareness and “excessive correspondence” from clients are just some of the challenges faced by direct access barristers, a major report by the Bar Standards Board and Legal Services Board has revealed. However, the “overwhelming consensus” was that direct access work would grow in the next few years.
Commercial pressures on barristers are causing high risk behaviours that are detectable in complaints received by the Bar Standards Board, an assessment of future regulatory dangers has revealed. It also highlighted what it claimed were indications that senior barristers were abusing their position of power over women, pupils, and junior barristers.
Plans by the Bar Standards Board to introduce a more flexible, outcomes-focused CPD scheme have met with widespread opposition from barristers. Only two of the proposals in its latest consultation received a positive response from individual barristers, while the Chancery Bar Association and Inns of Court expressed concerns
Barristers specialising in professional negligence are more likely than colleagues in any other area of law to generate complaints, a report by the Bar Standards Board has found. The research found that ethnicity did not have an impact on complaints, but gender did, with men more likely to be complained about.
A dual-qualified employment lawyer, struck off as a solicitor last year for deceiving clients, has been disbarred for his “persistent dishonesty”. The Bar Standards Board said Jean Etienne Attala attempted to cover up the fact employment claims he was handling had been struck out.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is to research this year whether standards of criminal advocacy are declining and whether solicitors are to blame. As part of the research, the SRA said it would ask judges whether solicitor-advocates were “working beyond their level of competence”.
A barrister who told a direct access client he had “all the same freedoms” as a solicitor to conduct litigation, when he did not, has lost a High Court appeal against his three-month suspension. Garnham J described Oliver White’s misconduct as “serious”.
Lawyers will have to wait patiently for another chance to complain to the government about the Legal Services Board (LSB) as it emerged that the board’s second ‘triennial review’, due this year, has been scrapped.
The Bar Standards Board has rejected suggestions that its application to become an alternative business structure licensing authority will unnecessarily restrict the extent of non-lawyer ownership and so have a detrimental effect on competition.
The Bar Standard Board expects to regulate just 20 alternative business structures each year in the first three years after it becomes a licensing authority. Its prediction likely reflects caution prompted by the weaker than expected take-up of BSB-regulated entities.