THE NUMBER of complaints against barristers has risen by 15 per cent in the past year.
The annual report of the complaints commissioner, Michael Scott, shows complaints against barristers have shot up from 551 to 631.
The report also shows the number of complaints made by the Bar Council against barristers has doubled from 57 to 113.
Scott says: “The bulk of this reflects the drive against barristers’ failure to pay insurance premiums.”
Indemnity insurance is an essential part of client protection. “Self-regulation of the profession does work. This should demonstrate that we take our disciplinary function very seriously,” says a Bar Council spokesman.
The rules relating to insurance provisions have been tightened up to allow the Council to enforce harsher sanctions, which can ultimately result in disbarment.
Of the 401 complaints handled by the Professional
Conduct and Complaints Committee, prima facie evidence of misconduct or inadequate professional service was discovered in 25 per cent of cases.
Scott is calling for restrictions to be lifted on the compensation paid to clients for unnecessary stress and anxiety caused by a barrister.
At the moment, a claim cannot be made unless the complainant can prove he has suffered loss which is recoverable at law.