The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published a new statistical analysis examining the outcomes of complaints made about barristers in England and Wales between January 2015 and October 2019. The research was particularly focused on investigating the relationship between the outcomes of, and the likelihood of a complaint being made, and specific characteristics of barristers, particularly gender and ethnicity.
Within the analysis, the BSB has divided the complaints into two categories “internal complaints” (complaints raised by the BSB based on information received from sources, such as self-reports of potential professional misconduct; referrals from other departments of the BSB; referrals from other regulators; judicial criticisms; and public/media coverage of barristers’ behaviour) and “external complaints” (complaints raised by members of the public, legal professionals or other external sources, who wished to make a formal complaint about a barrister).
Key findings from the analysis include:
- Male barristers who were the subject of a complaint were around 2.1 times more likely to have their case referred for disciplinary action compared with female barristers ;
- Male barristers were around 1.3 times more likely than female barristers to be subject to an “internal complaint”;
- Compared to White barristers, barristers from minority ethnic backgrounds were found to be around 1.7 times more likely to be subject to an “internal complaint” compared with White barristers;
Commenting on the findings, BSB Director of Legal and Enforcement, Sara Jagger, said:
“This report illustrates our commitment to transparency in the way in which we deal with reports about barristers’ conduct. Our decision making is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is of a high quality and free from bias and it is essential that we keep monitoring these issues. Our decision-making processes have changed significantly since the period covered by this report and later this year, we will be reviewing the impact of those changes on the outcomes for barristers with different diversity characteristics.”