Three-quarters of the recommendations made by the 2012 Browne report into the disciplinary regime for barristers – sparked by irregularities over appointments to the disciplinary panels – have so far been implemented, according to a Bar Standards Board report.
There have been “systemic failures” in the administration of the Bar’s disciplinary tribunals dating back several years, a damning report has found. A review group has issued 82 recommendations to establish a new tribunal service.
It has been gratifying that both the national and legal media have at last caught up with the series of revelations that Legal Futures has been reporting on since March over problems with the Bar’s disciplinary regime. Last week, suddenly, it featured on the Today programme, as well as in The Times, which in turn woke up some legal rags to what has been happening.
The Bar Standards Board has hit back at criticism on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of the way in which it conducts disciplinary proceedings against barristers, with claims of “secrecy, incompetence and maladministration”.
The Legal Services Board has called on the government to support a bid by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a massive increase in the amount it can fine law firms. The SRA wants to increase its power to fine law firms from £2,000 to £250m, and to £50m for individuals.
Around 550 disciplinary cases involving barristers could be affected by the failure to validly appoint some of the tribunal members who sat in judgment on them, we can reveal. Specialist regulatory lawyers are watching closely to see if cases can be reopened.
A record number of solicitors have been either struck off or suspended, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has revealed. However, the number of solicitors appearing before the tribunal has dropped sharply, possibly because of the SRA’s new powers to issue sanctions itself.