Complaints against Barristers

The General Council for the Bar (the Bar Council) is the governing body for barristers, The Bar Council set up the Bar Standards Board (BSB) as the independent regulatory board of the Bar Council, with responsibility for regulating barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales. They can deal with complaints by service users about professional misconduct or inadequate professional service.

The BSB will normally expect you to try to resolve the matter directly with the barrister or his ‘chambers’. You may want the advice of your solicitor or a Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help you with this. If your barrister or the chambers fail to resolve the matter satisfactorily, or you feel that it would not be appropriate or practicable to complain the barrister, you can submit your complaint to the BSB. In any event you should You should submit the complaint within six months of the matter you are complaining about.

If your complaint is upheld, you may be awarded compensation (up to £5.000), and the barrister can be dealt with summarily or referred to a tribunal that has the power, in very serious cases, to disbar the barrister.

For more information on how to complain to the BSB, see their website here.


For 200 years barristers enjoyed an immunity which prevented disgruntled clients from suing them for damages for loss incurred as a result of the barrister’s negligence in representing the client in court. The House of Lords removed the immunity in 2000. The decision removed immunity with respect to all proceedings, both civil and criminal, and also affects solicitors who act as advocates in court.

If you consider that your barrister acted negligently and that you have suffered negligently as a result, you may want to consider bringing a civil action for damages. You should note that such actions are very complex and you should not consider starting any proceedings without detailed legal advice from a solicitor specialising in professional negligence. For more information on bringing civil proceedings see Civil Action.

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