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BSB survey of sanctions compliance at the Commercial Bar finds good levels of compliance but room for improvement in some areas

Breaking NewsBSB survey of sanctions compliance at the Commercial Bar finds good levels of compliance but room for improvement in some areas

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published a thematic review of sanctions compliance focused on 31 chambers that are members of the Commercial Bar Association.   The BSB generally found that barristers were aware of the risks of unwittingly engaging with a designated person without a licence and that they were taking a cautious approach to compliance. We also found examples of good practice which we would encourage all barristers and their chambers or entity staff to consider regardless of their area of practice.

All barristers and BSB entities must comply with the UK’s sanctions regime and must have procedures in place to ensure that sanctions are not breached.  The BSB focused this review on the commercial Bar because they were assessed to be the most likely to have exposure to clients subject to the sanctions regime.

The report finds that most chambers had at least some procedures in place to promote a consistent approach and to ensure compliance with the sanctions regime but there was room for improvement in some cases in documenting and implementing those controls.  The BSB visited all chambers that provided insufficient assurance in response to an initial questionnaire that appropriate controls were in place.  Where it was found that remedial action was required the BSB has ensured that this has now been carried out.   The BSB wants to ensure that chambers’ management committees have mechanisms and guidance in place to assure themselves that risk is appropriately and consistently assessed, and compliance controls are consistently applied.

The BSB welcomes the intention of the Bar Council to issue guidance to help ensure consistency in ensuring compliance with the sanctions regime across the profession.

Commenting on the report, Mark Neale, the Director of the Bar Standards Board said “I am pleased to see that this review suggests that members of the commercial Bar are taking a cautious approach to ensure that they comply with the UK’s sanctions regimes.  Those regimes apply to barristers in every area of practice, so we hope that all barristers will take note of the best practice recommendations in the review.  In particular,  the report does underline some uncertainty about the respective responsibilities of individual barristers and of chambers in managing the risk of sanctions breaches.  This underlines the importance of the work the Bar Standards Board is doing to clarify expectations of chambers in this and other respects.”

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