As 2019 draws to a close, Sarah Richardson (Head of Regulatory Affairs, Law Reform, & Ethics), Eleanore Hughes (Policy Analyst, Regulatory Affairs, Law Reform and Ethics) and Melanie Mylvaganam (Policy Manager: Regulatory Affairs, Law Reform and Ethics) share their highlights from this year and a preview of what's coming up next year.

In 2019, the Law Reform Committee (LRC) responded to  numerous consultations. Consultation topics included sexual harassment, surrogacy and immigration rules. The Committee managed the 2019 law reform essay competition and awarded prizes to five winners.  You can read the winning essays  here. The committee organised the 17thAnnual Law Reform  Lecture on women in law, delivered by Lady Arden.

The team engaged with Stephen Mayson's review of Legal Services Regulation, the Legal Services Board's revision of the Internal Governance Rules and responded to a consultations on the Legal Services Board's Business plan 19/20. It brought together the Legal Ombudsman, BSB and a Chambers Director to deliver a seminar on complaints handling best practice for chambers. The team also supported the Direct Access Panel to update guidance documents for barristers undertaking public and licensed access work as well as successfully persuading the Bar Standards Board to update their Public Access model client care letters.

The Bar Council's Ethical Enquiries Service responded to approximately 600 written queries and 6000 calls from barristers, some of which were escalated to the Ethics Committee for consideration. The Committee also collaborated with other committees to give their view on the ethical dimensions on particular policy issues such as secondments and pro-bono work as well as ensuring all the ethical guidance documents on the  Ethics Hub were up to date.The committee was involved in the response to the BSB's Handbook Review call for evidence.

Finally, we responded to consultations on the  implementation of the 5th Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) and  recovery of OPBAS fees. Given the low-risk profile of the Bar for AML, we were pleased to see OPBAS adopt our preferred approach to their fee model. 

Looking ahead to 2020 we will be updating our guidance for 5MLD and the new Regulations. The LRC will continue to engage with the Law Commission on the surrogacy consultation, the automated vehicles consultation and the hate crime review and the Ethics Committee will lead a response to a consultation anticipated to propose reforms to the BSB Handbook. Stephen Mayson's final report on his review of the regulation of Legal Services is expected in late Spring and we will study his recommendations with interest.