The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its annual Business Plan for 2020-21 in which it sets out its main priorities for the year.
The work outlined within the Plan has been revised in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic but may be subject to further review as the impact of that pandemic becomes clearer.
The focus of the regulator’s work will continue to be its day-to-day work to regulate barristers in England and Wales. This includes overseeing the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, monitoring the standards of conduct of barristers, and assuring the public that everyone authorised to practise is competent to do so.
The BSB’s Business Plan outlines the regulator’s budget for the coming year. The Budget has not yet been revised, however, because it is not currently possible to forecast what impact the pandemic will have on the BSB’s income or costs. The BSB is nevertheless already taking measures to reduce its costs including freezing salaries and non-essential recruitment.
The Plan also includes the following policy development and implementation work:
- enabling students affected by the cancellation of the April 2020 sitting of the Bar Professional Training Couse central examinations to have the chance to gain the necessary qualifications as soon as possible;
- overseeing the introduction of new Bar vocational training courses from September 2020;
- conducting a review of the BSB Handbook to make sure that it remains fit for purpose, relevant and accessible;
- reviewing the regulatory approach to barristers’ conduct arising from their actions outside their immediate professional practice as barristers;
- implementing a new Equality and Diversity Strategy and continuing work to encourage the reporting of bullying and harassment at the Bar;
- evaluating the impact of new Bar transparency rules which were introduced in July 2019; and
- developing a public engagement strategy to help increase public understanding about legal services, and in particular those offered by barristers, in partnership with charities and consumer organisations.
2020-21 is the second year in the BSB’s current three-year Strategic Plan which was first published in March 2019.
BSB Director-General Mark Neale said:
“Our Business Plan for this year rightly focuses on the day-to-day work necessary to regulate the Bar, but we also have essential work to do in other areas including dealing with the impact of the measures to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic (which will also involve deferring some projects), ensuring the success of our reforms to Bar training, reviewing our Handbook, promoting equality and diversity, and developing our new public legal education strategy. This will be a busy and important year for the BSB.”
The BSB’s Business Plan for 2020-21 can be found here.