Accessing clear information about barristers is now easier than ever, as the Bar Standards Board (BSB) launches a new online Register of barristers.
For the first time the Register will provide basic information on all barristers permitted to offer legal services in England and Wales via a single online database. This can be accessed by the profession and public alike from the BSB website, www.barstandardsboard.org.uk.
The Register is an important reference tool for the public and the profession. Providing users of barristers' services with clear and accurate information about barristers, the Register helps to underpin the BSB's commitment to ensuring consumer choice, competition and quality in the legal profession. Enquirers can also derive some comfort from the fact that this data is authoritative and provided by the regulator of the Bar.
The Register also shows publishable disciplinary findings about the barrister, in line with the existing policy relating to publication of disciplinary findings. The Register contains contact information for the Complaints and Hearings Team for those wishing to check whether there are any older disciplinary findings relating to a particular barrister.
A Guide to the Register is also available on the BSB website which explains how to use the Register, what users can do if they cannot find the person they are looking for and what a barrister should do if they are eligible to offer legal services and do not appear in the Register.
Further development of the Register will be informed by a consultation exercise next year in relation to authorisation to practice and will address, for example, the issue of whether those who do fail to pay their practising certificate fee, complete CPD or declare that they have adequate insurance should be removed from the Register altogether as effectively ineligible to practise.
Commenting on the new Register, BSB Chair Ruth Deech said, "The launch of the online Register represents the BSB's commitment to providing important and useful regulatory tools in the public interest. The Register will give the public and the profession clear information about those who provide legal services - helping them make informed choices in relation to barristers' services".