The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator for barristers but it is required by the Legal Services Board’s rules to delegate its regulatory functions to a separate body. Those functions are delegated to the Bar Standards Board (BSB). The Bar Council, in its representative role, is not permitted to prejudice the exercise of those functions by the BSB.
In its representative role, the Bar Council is commenting on the handling of the report relating to Dinah Rose KC.
Mark Fenhalls KC, Chair of the Bar, said:
“The BSB’s recent behaviour in relation to a complaint against Dinah Rose KC has given rise to an unqualified apology by the BSB. The Bar Council welcomes this apology, however we are deeply concerned by what has happened.
“It is central to the professional standards of barristers that they represent clients whether or not they approve of the client's position, and that barristers are not to be associated with their clients' causes merely by virtue of having represented them.
“The BSB’s handling of the complaint against Dinah Rose was unacceptable and inexcusable. It is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of fairness to ever issue a decision document to a complainant which is critical of a barrister without providing the barrister with an opportunity to be heard or to comment.
“The BSB is failing to meet its performance indicators for the exercise of its regulatory functions. It is dealing with cases much too slowly. The BSB must now concentrate on its core responsibility of investigating allegations of professional misconduct in a timely and accurate manner, and do so in a way that conforms to the elementary principles of natural justice which were overlooked in this case.
“The BSB has undertaken to review its own processes. This must be a transparent and ‘root and branch’ review of process if the BSB is to regain the confidence of the profession and the public.”