The BSB’s new Bar Qualification Rules

On 1 April 2019, our new Bar Qualification rules came into effect. They can be viewed in Part 4 of the BSB Handbook and should be read in conjunction with the Bar Qualification Manual, which sets out how the rules are applied. The changes to the rules are an evolution, not a revolution. Our aim has been to make training for the Bar more accessible, affordable and flexible while ensuring that the brightest talent continues to be attracted to the Bar, and can be developed in such a way as to sustain the high standards rightly expected of barristers.

Authorisation to provide pupillage

 New applicants

Chambers and other organisations that want to start providing pupillage for the first time must meet the criteria for authorisation set out in the Authorisation Framework. You will need to apply to become an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (or AETO). For most applications, there will be a flat fee of £250. Before submitting an application, please contact us at authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk. We also suggest that you familiarise yourself with the Authorisation Framework, the Bar Qualification Manual and the Professional Statement. These documents, together with guidance to assist you with the application, are available on our website: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/qualifying-as-a-barrister/authorised-education-and-training-organisations,-including-pupillage-providers/

Existing providers of pupillage

If your chambers or organisation is already approved by us to provide pupillage, and you want to continue to do so in the future, you must also meet the criteria for authorisation set out in the Authorisation Framework and apply to become an AETO. We will be in contact with you over the course of 2019-20 about this process. There is no fee. This does not affect any pupils that you have already recruited, and you can continue to advertise for new pupils. If you have any questions, please contact us at authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk.

The new minimum pupillage funding award

 Pupillages that commence on or after 1 September 2019 must be funded in accordance with our new minimum pupillage award. The minimum award for chambers and BSB entities is now set having regard to the hourly rates recommended by the Living Wage Foundation and are now set at:

  • £18,436 for 12-month pupillages in London
  • £15,728 for 12-month pupillages outside London

The minimum will be increased in future with effect from 1 January each year, the first such increase being in January 2020. Increases will be announced in November each year following publication of the Living Wage Foundation’s calculations for the year ahead.

Minimum monthly payments to pupils are still mandatory (i.e. the total divided by 12). However, flexibility is permitted to allow upfront payments. In the practising period, AETOs must continue to cover the difference between a pupil’s earnings and the minimum monthly amount. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that pupils at least receive a regular, minimum income throughout pupillage.

At the end of last year, we contacted chambers that were at that time paying pupils below those amounts. If we have not spoken to you and you want to discuss this with us, you can contact us at authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk

You can read more about the pupillage funding rules here: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media/1998211/2019_08_pupillage_funding.pdf

sing the Professional Statement to assess competence in pupillage

You are required to assess pupils in line with the Threshold Standard and Competences specified in the Professional Statement for all pupillages starting on or after 1 September 2019. This is a change to the current requirement to complete the pupillage checklists.

If you have not yet implemented the Professional Statement, you should now be adapting your pupillage training programme and documentation. It is for AETOs to develop their own training plan and records in place of the old checklists, to provide evidence to the BSB that pupils have met the competences, successfully completed pupillage and are eligible to apply to the BSB for a Provisional Practising Certificate and a Full Practising Certificate. We will

not be prescribing templates for training records.

We have been testing this new requirement with a pilot group of chambers and organisations from the employed Bar for the past two years and developing guidance, which you can find in the Bar Qualification Manual on our website: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/qualifying-as-a-barrister/bar-training-requirements/bar-qualification-manual-index/

If you have any questions about this, you can contact us at supervision@barstandardsboard.org.uk

Pupil Supervisors

 Changes in the rules for determining who can be a pupil supervisor

Our rules were very prescriptive about who could be a pupil supervisor. We no longer prescribe the eligibility criteria for pupil supervisors except that a pupil supervisor must normally be a practising barrister.

We have introduced more flexibility, so now it is for the AETO to decide who is suitable to be a pupil supervisor and to ensure that they have received (and continue to receive) appropriate training. We no longer require barristers to seek approval from their Inn to be a pupil supervisor. AETOs will have to tell us, through our authorisation and supervision processes, how they decide who should be a pupil supervisor and therefore how they maintain high standards in training pupils.

Requirements for training of pupil supervisors

All pupil supervisors must receive appropriate training. Most training for pupil supervisors is delivered by the Inns and Circuits, but supervisor training is open to other organisations too and can be delivered in-house by an AETO. For example, if you are a large employer, you can train supervisors in a way that is more suited to your organisation, provided you meet the outcomes we specify. Organisations that train pupil supervisors are not accredited by us, but we will be prescribing “outcomes” for pupil supervisor training – in other words, providing a broad framework as to what the training should achieve. We are in the process of setting those outcomes and will publish them later this   autumn, with a timetable for delivery. AETOs will have to ensure that their supervisors’ training meets the outcomes that we will prescribe.

Refresher training will be mandatory for all pupil supervisors and will be required every five years, or after three years for someone who has not supervised any pupils in the intervening time. We expect to publish a timetable in the autumn for achieving this.

You can find out more about changes to training, registration of supervisors and new flexible arrangements for supervising pupils at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/qualifying-as-a-barrister/future-requirements/

The BSB’s Director of Regulatory Assurance, Oliver Hanmer, explains what those who train pupils need to know.

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