The Legal Services Board (LSB) has published a new statutory statement of policy on ongoing competence, setting out the outcomes that the legal services regulators should meet.

The Bar Council fed into the consultation process through the call for evidence on ongoing competence (June 2020) and by responding to the LSB draft statement of policy on ongoing competence (March 2022).

Commenting on the publication of the statement of policy, Mark Fenhalls QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“This is a solution in search of a problem. Throughout the consultation process we have consistently demonstrated that there is no evidence to suggest there is a systemic problem with barristers’ ongoing competence. In fact, the evidence, for example from the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, suggests standards are generally high at the Bar.

“Once again, we are concerned that this statement is an example of the LSB overstepping its remit as an oversight regulator when it ought to be concentrating on the performance of first-tier regulators in delivering their core activities.

“However, we note that the LSB statement of policy is intended to be flexible for regulators to apply, which is a step in the right direction. With no evidence of a problem at the Bar, it is essential that the Bar Standards Board takes an evidence-based and proportionate approach to applying the policy in the future.”