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BSB reduces publication periods for misbehaving barristers

Jagger: Revised policy strikes the right balance

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is to cut the length of time that sanctions imposed on misbehaving barristers appear on its website, on the Bar Register and when it responds to requests for information.

The result will leave barristers with less severe sanctions better off than solicitors, but those suspended for up to three years worse off.

In an update to its publications policy, the BSB said that for offences not involving a suspension or disbarment, it would keep the existing rule that details remain on its website for two years. This compares with three years for solicitors.

For barristers suspended for a year or less, the BSB has decided to publish the details of their misconduct for five years. This is half the current publication time of 10 years, but more than the three-year period applied by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Barristers suspended for more than a year will have to wait for 10 years in addition to the duration of the suspension period before their details are removed. The current policy is indefinite publication.

For solicitors, publication of details relating to suspensions last for three years unless they are suspended for more than three years, when it lasts for the length of the suspension.

Barristers who have been disbarred will have to wait 60 years, if they are still alive, for details of their sanction to be removed by the BSB.

The current rule is indefinite publication, the approach taken by the SRA to struck-off solicitors.

A spokesman for the BSB said its current publication policy covered all findings of professional misconduct published on its website, but the new one went further by extending this to the Bar Register requests for information.

The new publication policy will come into effect on 15 September this year.

Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct at the BSB, said: “This update to our publications policy reaffirms our commitment to protecting the public.

“As a public interest regulator it is essential that we put the needs of the public first, but we also need to ensure that we take into account the impact on the profession of publishing disciplinary findings.

“The revised policy, in our view, strikes the right balance. The public will continue to be able to access relevant information, so they can make informed choices before engaging the services of a barrister.”