Law Soc, Bar Council to separate regulatory and complaints arms

The Bar Council and the Law Society are both splitting their regulatory and complaints-handling functions from their main activities.

Law Soc, Bar Council to separate regulatory and complaints armsAt the same time as the Law Society is establishing separate regulatory and complaints-handling bodies, the Bar Council has decided to separate its professional conduct and complaints (PCC) committee from its policy function.

The moves follow recommendations made by Sir David Clementi in his recent report Review of the Regulatory Framework for Legal Services.

Currently, the Law Society and the Bar Council act as the regulatory and representative bodies for the solicitors and barristers professions respectively. Under Clementis proposals, the two functions will be split.

The Law Societys decision to establish separate committees for regulatory and complaints-handling work means that the Law Society Council will now have a solely representative role. Members of the 105-strong council will not be able to serve on both of the new bodies simultaneously.

Over time, the complaints-handling body is expected to cede its functions to the new Clementi-recommended Office for Legal Complaints.

Meanwhile, the Bar Councils move is in response to potential conflicts of interest. At present a barrister can investigate and prosecute for alleged misconduct a fellow member of their profession whom they also sit alongside on Bar Council policymaking committees.

Richard Price QC, chairman of the PCC committee, which is also responsible for the changes, said: “Theres a perception of conflict, rather than an actual conflict. It would be desirable to have people on the PCC committee who are not members of the Bar Councils policymaking department.”