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Number of bad-boy barristers drops as disbarments tumbled last year

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Regulator’s annual figures show complaints rise, but 31% fewer lawyers were given red cards

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Barristers were much better behaved last year than in the previous 12 months, according to figures from the regulator that show a significant decline in disbarments.

The number of barristers given red cards was more than 31% down on the 2013-14 period despite a marginal 0.8% increase in 2014-15 in complaint files opened.

Figures from the Bar Standards Board’s annual report — released earlier this week — also included a claim that the regulator’s overall complaints handling processes improved.

Last year, 13 barristers were chucked out of the profession, compared with 19 in the previous 12 months. That drop came even though the BSB opened 33 more complaint files last year, up to 441.

Of that total, the report showed that enforcement action against barristers was taken in 80 cases, or 18% of matters involving allegations deemed serious enough to investigate.

The BSB also claimed that its overall performance in handling complaints has steadily improved over the last three years. Complaints not requiring detailed investigation should be concluded within eight weeks, while those involving sleuthing are meant to be wrapped up within eight months.

According to the BSB, it managed to hit those targets in 80% of cases, an increase of more than 3% on the previous year and considerably up on the woeful 64% clocked in 2012-13.