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Serious Misconduct

Purpose: Guide to reporting obligations around serious misconduct, and where this is linked either directly or indirectly to their physical/mental health condition. For supplementary information on wellbeing guidance and good management practice, visit
Scope of application: All barristers
Issued by: The Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee
Status and effect: Please see the notice at end of this page. This is not “guidance” for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4.

What is misconduct?
For this purpose, misconduct means breaches of obligations under the BSB Handbook.

What duties arise under the BSB Handbook if a barrister commits misconduct?
Two main duties may arise:
1. In some circumstances, there will be a duty to report the misconduct to the BSB: see below.
2. A barrister who commits misconduct is under a duty (flowing from Core Duties 2 and 10) to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of that misconduct (gC2, gC94).

A failure to comply with either of those duties will itself be misconduct. If you are working in an entity, then misconduct falling short of serious misconduct should be reported to your HOLP so that this can be recorded: see gC102…

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Important Notice

This document has been prepared by the Bar Council to assist barristers on matters of professional conduct and ethics. It is not “guidance” for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4, and neither the BSB nor a disciplinary tribunal nor the Legal Ombudsman is bound by any views or advice expressed in it. It does not comprise – and cannot be relied on as giving – legal advice. It has been prepared in good faith, but neither the Bar Council nor any of the individuals responsible for or involved in its preparation accept any responsibility or liability for anything done in reliance on it. For fuller information as to the status and effect of this document, please see here.

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