A Guide to DBS Checks for Legal Staff
Anybody who works in a legal role is expected to be responsible and professional in their conduct. In other words, they must be able to demonstrate that they have a good, honest character.
One way to ensure that people working in the justice system in a legal role is honest is to run a criminal background check, known as a DBS Check. In this brief guide, we’ll provide you with an overview of DBS Checks for legal workers, which checks are needed, and how to go about getting one.
Enhanced DBS Checks for Staff Working in Legal Roles
In this section, we will look at which types of legal staff need to get an Enhanced DBS Check.
An Enhanced DBS Check is a criminal record check that highlights any spent or unspent convictions, reprimands, cautions, or warnings that are on the person’s record, plus any additional relevant information that may be stored by local police forces.
An Enhanced DBS Check may also include a search of the children’s and adults’ barred list, but only if the role involves something known as a “regulated activity” that involves working with vulnerable adults or children.
For example, a legal role that includes “assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs” would normally be a regulated activity.
The UK government defines “assistance in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs” as including on or more of the following:
- Lasting power of attorney, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005
- Enduring power of attorney as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005
- Acting as an Independent Mental Health Advocate
- Acting as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate
- Appointed as an adult’s deputy as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005
- Provision of independent advocacy services as defined by the National Health Service Act 2006
- Receipt of payments on behalf of an adult as defined by the Social Security Administration Act 1992
Any person that provides at least one of the above services is considered to be engaged in a regulated activity with vulnerable adults, which means that they are required to get an Enhanced DBS Check with an adults barred list check.
Standard DBS Checks for Legal Roles
In this section we will investigate which legal roles require a Standard DBS Check. A Standard DBS Check highlights both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings that exist on an individual’s criminal record.
To qualify for a Standard DBS Check, the applicant must be working in a role that is listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. The roles listed in that regulation include:
- Overseas lawyer (registered)
- Chartered Legal Executives
The Standard DBS Check application form is only to be submitted through a professional regulator or other registered third party, not by the individual. The application should be submitted before entry into the profession or qualification from an accredited body.
If the role changes to include the provision of legal advice or support to vulnerable adults or children on a frequent basis, then an Enhanced DBS Check may be required. If the role is considered to be a regulated activity, then an Enhanced DBS Check with barred list check will be required.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) defines certain legal and financial roles as “controlled functions”. If a legal role includes participation in a controlled function, then the applicant becomes eligible for a Standard DBS Check and on the application form they should check the box that states “other workforce”.
Basic DBS Checks for Legal Roles
A legal role may be eligible for a Basic DBS Check if it does not fit the criteria for a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check. Anybody aged 16 years or over can submit an application for a Basic DBS Check and they don’t need to go through a registered body to do so.
The Basic DBS Check highlights any unspent convictions that appear on an applicant’s criminal record and helps to make sure that the person is right for a legal role that has a degree of responsibility, such as a legal clerk or secretary.
Summary of DBS Checks for Legal Roles
Legal roles cover a wide range of professions from secretaries and clerks to solicitors, barristers, and judges.
The nature and responsibility of the legal role in question determines whether any applicants will be eligible for a DBS Check.
Applicants can apply for DBS Check online these days, which is faster, more secure, and helps to ensure accuracy.
If you are applying for a legal role or simply want to find out more about DBS Checks for legal roles, then get in touch with one of our advisors today.