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BSB publishes Vulnerability Good Practice Guide (Immigration Clients) for Immigration Barristers

Richmond Chambers has been working with the Bar Standards Board to help produce a user guide for barristers working with vulnerable adult immigration clients, released this week.

The Vulnerability Good Practice Guide aims to help barristers to identify, assess and manage client vulnerabilities in line with good practice. This guide was a response to the recommendations made by the BSB’s Immigration Thematic Review in 2016, which highlighted potential deficiencies in three main areas: access to justice, poorly informed consumers, and quality of advice and standards of service.

Consumers of immigration and asylum advice and services are commonly a particularly vulnerable group. Aside from those seeking asylum, barristers’ clients might be suffering from mental health issues or homelessness, or might be vulnerable due to their position in the UK speaking little or no English. They could also be at risk due to their gender, religious belief, sexuality other protected characteristics. It is therefore imperative that barristers have guidance which will enable them to assess a client’s vulnerability and adapt their services accordingly. What is more, it will also be use to other individuals, providing practical advice to clerks and practice managers who will also be in regular contact with such clients.

The guide walks the barrister through the legal process from the perspective of the consumer. It outlines the individual stages of the typical legal consumer’s client journey, from identifying a problem through to the final follow-up stage. The advice is illuminated by examples of good practice throughout. It also provides factsheets dealing directly with the issues outlined in the BSB’s initial review, such as enabling access to services and client care and communication, as well as factsheets on identifying victims of trafficking and issues with mental capacity.

Richmond Chambers was one of a number of organisations helping to compile the guide, including clerks, consumer organisations, legal regulators and other stakeholders. Although the guidance does not form part of the Handbook, and is therefore not mandatory, it is hoped that it will be a valuable supplement, helping enable barristers to swiftly identify vulnerabilities and provide adequate support to their clients throughout the process.

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