The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has seen a decrease in the number of barristers disbarred in the last year, falling to four in 2020-2021 compared to ten in 2019-20, revealed BSB’s latest annual Regulatory Decision-making Report.
The report covers the period April 2020 to March 2021 and reflects the first full year of data following changes to the BSB’s approach to regulatory decision-making.
It also found that the BSB received a 54% increase in the number of reports, including complaints, submitted to the board over the last year, up to 3303 in 2020-21 compared to 1,489 in 2019-20.
Additionally, the board has also seen a “substantial increase” in the number of applications for authorisations, exemptions and waivers, having dealt with a total of 1,140 applications.
The BSB said this increase coincided with the pandemic and has had a “significant impact on performance against key performance indicators”.
Meanwhile, waivers were reportedly issued to encourage those offering pupillage to allow pupils to start early, pending the results of their BPTC exams, which enabled 95 people to progress to pupillage.
The BSB has also increased its proactive supervision and support of the profession in key areas of pupillage, and bullying and harassment.
Oliver Hanmer, BSB’s director of Regulatory Operations, said: “It has been a challenging year for the regulatory decision-making functions of the BSB, with significant increases in reports about barristers and the volume of authorisation applications.
“This increase, coupled with the impact of Covid on our resource capacity, has affected our performance against our published service standards.”
He added: “The Bar, like most other professions, has faced significant challenges this year and this report covers the period where the impact of Covid-19 was felt at its greatest. We have responded by working hard to understand the impact of the pandemic on the profession and to provide support where possible.”