Legal services consumers claim controversial proposal will ‘incentivise’ Barristers to deliver improved services

Controversial proposals to reduce the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings against Barristers from the criminal to the civil standard have been welcomed by the Legal Services Consumer Panel – which says that the change would “incentivise Barristers to deliver good services” at all times.

The news comes in response to a consultation, which revealed strong support among consumers in favour of the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) divisive proposal.

A consultation response penned by Panel Chair, Dr Jane Martin, read: “The panel is of the strong opinion that the current standard of proof is too stringent and does not serve the consumers interest.

“[The proposed change] will be fairer on consumers, and it may act as a positive incentive for Barristers to deliver good services,” it added.

The response also claimed that confidence and trust in the profession would always be best served under a regime where “consumers can be assured that the probability of misconduct will be addressed in all reasonable circumstances.”

Following the publication of the statement, Dr Martin said that “strong public protection arguments for adopting the civil standard” had previously been noted when the Law Commission considered similar proposals in the health and social care sector back in 2012.

Dr Martin said: “Although the Law Commission’s view was expressed in the context of health and social care professionals, the argument could be applied to legal professionals.

“The time is therefore right for the BSB to change its position on this important issue.”

The Legal Services Consumer panel added that the change was “right, reasonable and fair,” regardless of other criticisms or concerns that had been raised.

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