The Bar Standards Board is a professional organization responsible for overseeing standards for barristers practicing in England and Wales. This independent regulatory organization ensures a basic standard of qualifications and training for people practicing law in these regions and also provides ethical guidelines. Members of the public with complaints about specific barristers can file with the Bar Standards Board, and the organization can investigate and issue a ruling on the basis of the outcome of the investigation.
One important aspect of this organization's work is the development of standards for training. People who wish to practice law must complete a curriculum meeting the standards of the Bar Standards Board, ensuring that every practicing barrister has some basic knowledge of important legal topics. The organization also sets mandates for continuing education, requiring people to pursue legal education throughout their careers if they want to remain licensed, with the goal of keeping barristers up to date on changes in the law and other matters.
Establishing legal ethics guidelines is also part of the work of the Bar Standards Board. People practicing law must adhere to these guidelines and can potentially be stripped of their licenses for violations, or heavily fined. These guidelines are periodically revised to include updated information and shifts in ethical stances on particular issues. Members of the bar must be able to show a comprehensive knowledge of legal ethics, as well as agreeing to abide by them.
Public complaints are processed by the Bar Standards Board. Serious complaints and investigations are made public. People can look up specific barristers to see if they have been subjected to complaints and what the outcome of the investigation was. This service is designed to increase confidence among members of the public, in addition to providing a mechanism for enforcing the policies set by the Bar Standards Board. The organization has the ability to fine barristers, suspend them from practice, or take away their licenses for egregious violations of standards.
Fifteen people serve on the board, including a mixture of barristers and lay people. The organization is headquartered in London. Members of the Bar Standards Board are not affiliated with the Bar Council, a separate organization providing professional services to barristers and other legal professionals. The Bar Council chose to split its regulatory arm off into the Bar Standards Board to maintain integrity and functionality, as the missions of the two organizations are slightly different.