The Bar Standards Board (BSB) last night signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Inns of Court. It recognises the vital role that the Inns will continue to have in the education, training and qualification of barristers in England and Wales when new Bar qualification rules go live next week.
The MOU sets out the roles and responsibilities of the BSB and the Inns in relation to aspects of the education, training and qualification of barristers in England and Wales prior to them being Called to the Bar. In particular, the MOU is concerned with:
- student membership of an Inn;
- the administration of fit and proper person checks both upon admission to an Inn as a student member and again, before being Called to the Bar;
- the conduct of student members of an Inn; and
- the provision of professional development events known as “Qualifying Sessions” in line with an agreed framework.
The regulator is also preparing to publish a new edition of the BSB Handbook on 1 April which will see new qualification rules come into force. The new rules, which were approved last month by the Legal Services Board, are designed to ensure that training to become a barrister is more accessible, affordable and flexible whilst maintaining the high standards of entry expected at the Bar.
The Chair of the Bar Standards Board, Baroness Blackstone said:
“The role of the Inns of Court in preparing students for the realities of a career at the Bar is very important, so we are delighted to have signed this Memorandum of Understanding with them. The Inns will continue to have a unique role in the training of barristers in maintaining high standards and building a community of practice. They also play an essential part in encouraging the development of a more diverse profession.”
The President of the Council of the Ins of Court, Desmond Browne QC said:
“The Inns of Court share with the Bar Standards Board their commitment to the education and support of students from all backgrounds as they develop the skills and knowledge necessary to serve the public as members of the Bar. The role of the four Inns is historic, but it has never been more important than it is today in ensuring high professional standards and the preservation of the rule of law. As the Legal Services Board have said, our Memorandum of Understanding with the Bar Standards Board strikes a balance between the BSB’s oversight role and the Inns’ role under the Legal Services Act, and it should be given time to work.”
The Memorandum of Understanding is available here.