Financial services chief to head BSB

Neale: Former senior civil servant

The chief executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is to take over as director-general of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) next February.

Mark Neale, who will replace Dr Vanessa Davies following her retirement, has been head of the scheme for nine years, before which he was a senior civil servant at the Home Office and then the Treasury.

Mr Neale was responsible for counter-terrorism, organised crime and international work as a director-general at the Home Office between 2002 and 2005.

He moved to the Treasury where he was managing director for budget, tax and welfare between 2005 and 2010.

Baroness Blackstone, chair of the BSB, said Dr Davies had “transformed” the regulator during her nine years as director-general.

The BSB has also appointed Velia Soames, head of professional conduct at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, to the new role of independent reviewer.

Ms Soames was a City solicitor before working as a legal adviser at the Pensions Ombudsman and then moving into professional standards, becoming director of professional standards and conduct at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

She will review individual decisions taken by the regulator and “provide periodic audits of cases to give assurance that the BSB’s regulatory decision-making is operating fairly and effectively”.

Alongside this, the BSB’s new Independent Decision-Making Body (IDB) will start operating this month, replacing the professional conduct committee. It was meant to have begun working in June.

It consists of a pool of 17 barristers, including five QCs, and 23 lay members who will be formed into lay-majority panels to take decisions on individual disciplinary and authorisation cases.

All members are paid £308 per day or £154 per half day.

BSB board member Aidan Christie QC, who was chair of the professional conduct committee, is chair of the IDB. He is a commercial lawyer at 4 Pump Court.

The vice-chair is Iain Christie of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square. A full-time mediator, he was previously a Foreign Office lawyer and is also a professional actor.

In other BSB news:

  • The regulator has withdrawn a rule change application made to the Legal Services Board which would oblige single-person authorised bodies to obtain their primary level of indemnity insurance from Bar Mutual. “Following LSB requests for it to contain more information, we have withdrawn the application with a view to resubmitting it in due course,” Dr Davies said in her report to the BSB’s recent board meeting.
  • The BSB is reviewing its rule which prevents a barrister from holding a practising certificate as a barrister and with another approved regulator, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority; and
  • The BSB Handbook was amended last month to remove the restriction on the reporting of diversity data relating to sexual orientation and religion or belief unless all members of the workforce provide consent. Chambers still cannot publish this data if there is a risk of any individuals being identified. The aim is to help demonstrate the diversity of the Bar and lead to a stronger evidence base for future diversity initiatives.

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