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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Bar Standards Board publishes action plan on assuring professional competence

Bar Standards Board publishes action plan on assuring professional competence


The action plan responds to the LSB policy statement on ongoing competence

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published its action plan on assuring the professional competence of barristers, in response to the new expectations set out in the Legal Service Board’s (LSB) statutory statement of policy on ongoing competence.

The LSB’s new statement of policy, which was made public on 28 July 2022, details the outcomes that regulators are required to meet to ensure that legal professionals have the skills, knowledge and behaviour to provide good quality legal services. 

The BSB’s response to the LSB statement on ongoing competence deals with each outcome separately and the work that will take place to strengthen its approach. In addition to this, the BSB has published an accompanying action plan, which sets out a programme of work and related timelines to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months, which directly responds to the LSB’s outcomes.

The action plan states that the BSB will undertake the following activities: the ongoing review of the approach to continuing professional development and in particular the use of feedback and reflective practice to support learning and development; assessment of the role of chambers and employers in supporting high standards of practice; the improvement of intelligence and data analysis capabilities to ensure that regulatory interventions are targeted and based on a broad range of evidence; a review of the regulation on the early years of practice at the Bar to build on the expectations outlined in the BSB professional statement; and the enhancement of intelligence gathering and analysis and strengthening BSB intelligence sharing arrangements with other regulators and organisations, including the Legal Ombudsman.

Through the outcomes set out in the LSB’s new policy statement, legal regulators will now be required to set standards of competence and measures to ensure that those standards are maintained across the profession. The LSB designed the outcomes to be flexible, so that regulators can implement them across their regulated communities. 

BSB Director of Regulatory Operations, Oliver Hanmer said, “It is our job to ensure that members of the public have access to competent barristers. Our programme of work aims to deliver that objective through proportionate, evidenced based regulation which focusses on areas of greatest risk and which supports the profession to maintain standards of practice.”