The number of complaints made against barristers is up, new stats show, with instances involving social media jumping a whopping 82%.
The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) annual Regulatory Decision-making report published on Friday shows 2,517 reports about the conduct of barristers were dealt with between April 2021 and March 2022, a 54% uptick on the previous 12 months.
Cases involving social media jumped from 49 (involving 27 barristers) to 89 (involving 36 barristers), while matters relating to conduct at work that was not related to the provision of legal service also rose shaprly — 131 to 304.
The regulator said 164 referrals were accepted for investigation compared to 128 in the previous year, and the number decided jumped from 91 to 106.
In terms of outcomes, disbarments increased slightly from four to six while suspensions dropped from nine to seven.
“Performance in delivering our enforcement work is not where we would like it to be,” the BSB said. “The volume and complexity of investigation cases has increased, and, although the quality of our decision-making has remained high, we have struggled to keep pace with this. The result is slower performance against the timeliness service standards across all stages of the enforcement process.”
The regulator said it had take steps to address this including increasing staff headcount, however this did not fully materialise in 2021/22 due to “recruitment issues”.