Welcome Letter from Stephen Redmond, Chair, Independent Appointments Panel
Dear Potential Candidate
I warmly encourage you to consider making an application to become Chair of the Bar Standards Board. To help you as you contemplate whether this role may suit you, I’d like to give you a little insight into the Board, its work and what it is like leading and being a part of the Board.
With both independent members and practising barristers on the Board, you would be leading a group of highly capable and articulate people. They have a wide range of views expressed on all of the issues they consider. The interaction between so many able people with very different backgrounds and types of expertise can be one of the most satisfying aspects of what the Board does. They all learn from each other and by doing so, they produce well-reasoned decisions on all aspects of the regulation of barristers of England and Wales. Acting with integrity and respect is a central tenet, especially as they debate what can sometimes be difficult topics. Decisions are not always easy to reach and they engage in robust deliberations in order properly to test the issues before them. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute and the Board is always keen to ensure that all perspectives are aired before they make decisions.
The Board is supported by a talented and dedicated Executive team. Board members interact with BSB staff on a regular basis on all manner of issues and the Chair has a close working relationship with the Director General and her senior team while also holding the Executive properly to account. The Board is in the process of making some significant governance changes, which aim to keep a better balance between the Board and the Executive and streamline arrangements for policy- making which the BSB inherited from the Bar Council over ten years ago.
In terms of the work before the Board, they need to maintain the confidence of a quizzical, sometimes sceptical and even hostile profession while keeping a very clear focus on the regulatory objectives set by Parliament, which include the consumer interest as well as ensuring access to justice and the rule of law. The leadership of the Chair is critical to maintaining that confidence and keeping that focus. The BSB is seeking to increase its understanding of consumer concerns and to build better and wider outside stakeholder engagement into everything the organisation does. They are currently considering far-reaching changes to all aspects of training for the Bar and while they still need to understand the Bar very well and the challenges many barristers face in their practices; the public interest focus of the Board means they must also attend carefully to the impact on consumers.
While the Board is funded primarily by the profession, and the BSB is not a public sector organisation, the Board needs to make sure that its operations are subjected to proper scrutiny and that robust systems are in place to monitor activity.
If you are successful in your application, you will join at an intriguing time in the Board’s development. It may be a cliché, but you will genuinely help shape the future. The importance of the Bar and its operation to the rule of law and democracy in this country may not be appreciated by all but it is something the Board bears in mind at all times. The energy with which all Board members, and the executive team, approach the issues before them is often inspirational. The chance to make a difference is both motivating and stimulating for all involved.
If this also appeals to you, and you have the experience and skills set out further below, please do make an application.
Chair, Independent Appointments Panel