‘Dramatic increase’ in complaints about barristers social media posts

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Overall BSB findings show reports are on the rise

The number of complaints made against barristers is on the rise, with “dramatic increases” in reports alleging inappropriate use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) annual Regulatory Decision-making report released this week shows that it received 1,887 complaints in the period April 2020 to March 2021, up by 29% from 1,489 in the previous year.

The proportion of complaints about barristers’ conduct outside their professional lives doubled, forming 16.9% of cases, up from 7.9% on the previous year.

One aspect related to inappropriate content on social media, which has seen “dramatic increases” in reports received. Over the past five years, the number of cases increased from just two in 2016/17, to 49 in 2020/21.

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According to the report approximately 20% of reports result in investigations. Last year, 11 investigations related to inappropriate use of social media, up from six in the previous year. “Although small in overall number it does equate to almost a doubling in the number of investigations in this area,” the report noted.

Examples of cases investigated included comments that were considered to be discriminatory and using Twitter to “gratuitously insult others”. There was also one case of an unregistered barrister holding out as practising on Twitter, according to the report.

The BSB has previously cautioned barristers to avoid getting drawn into “heated” spats on social media.

Earlier this year, a senior barrister faced the BSB over his tweet that “the Equality Act undermines school discipline by empowering the stroppy teenager of colour”. Jon Holbrook was cleared of misconduct by the regulator but fined £500 for a separate tweet which he intends to appeal.

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A normal barrister

This comments section is going to be painful.


Scouser of Counsel

Not on Social Media and never will be.



The BSB and Bar Council want a profession filled with supplicant woke drones obsessed with the tick box diversity agenda. They shooed get back to doing their job, not operating as thought police in respect of out of court and out of work activities.



As the OP, I can confirm I know the difference between “shooed” and “should”. Can I put that down to autocorrect? Even the Daily Mail massive do not spell that badly.


Archibald Pomp O'City

I suspect even the average school leaver spells “that” goodly.



What about the increasing number of complaints about the BSB and SRA sticking their snouts in unnecessarily…


Pompous? Moi?

I’m absolutely shocked that seeking attention and validation from internet strangers comes easier to some people than spending time with their loving family and large circle of friends.

It’s almost as if many barristers are horribly socially awkward…?


Mr Pot

Hi Mr Kettle, you’re looking mighty dark in tone today ….


Mr Kettle

Mr Pot, you,
Are racist.



Surely you are not suggesting that prolific tweeters are tiresome narcissistic oafs who lack normal social skills?



Most of these complaints are malicious though and used as a way of abusing the person being complained about. The report should highlight this.


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