Legal Business Blogs

The Bar: BSB picks Sir Andrew Burns as new lay chair

The Bar Standards Board has selected Sir Andrew Burns as its next chair with Baroness Ruth Deech QC due to reach her term limit at the end of 2014.

Burns will initially serve a three year term at the regulator. He is currently the UK Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues and Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance having previously had a long career in the UK’s diplomatic corps serving as British High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Israel.

The handover comes as incumbent lay chair Baroness Deech, who in May 2013 was made an honorary QC in recognition of her services to the legal profession outside practice in the courts, is reaching her six year limit as head of the body at the end of 2014. Burns will take up the post on 1 January 2015. Burns said: ‘I am very excited at the prospect of leading the BSB through the next stage of its journey to becoming a more modern and efficient regulator. I am committed to working with the Bar to help it modernise and flourish in the face of change, while maintaining quality standards and safeguarding the client.’

The recruitment process, which comes after the Legal Services Board said earlier this year that all the legal profession’s regulators must have a lay chair, was carried out by a panel headed by Dr Kenneth Fleming.

Baroness Deech’s tenure as chair of the BSB has coincided with the introduction of the hugely unpopular Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates, under which barristers’ skills are assessed to decide what level of court work they may undertake, and a series of unprecedented strikes over legal aid cuts by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

However, it was the BSB that took the decision to ‘undeem’ very high cost (VHCC) legally aided cases following rate cuts, paving the way for the Bar to collectively refuse to act until an interim settlement was reached at the start of this month.