New Bar qualification rules come into force with latest edition of BSB Handbook

On 1 April 2019, The Bar Standards Board (BSB) published a new edition of its Handbook which saw new Bar qualification rules come into force.

The new rules, which were approved in February by the Legal Services Board, will enable the programme of reform known as Future Bar Training to be implemented. The new qualification rules 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 key milestones in the implementation of the new Bar qualification rules include:

  • from April 2019, organisations wanting to offer training under any of the routes to qualification permitted within the new rules will be able to apply to the BSB for the required authorisation. Precisely what training becomes available to prospective barristers, and when, will depend on those applying to become Authorised Education Training Organisations (AETOs);
  • from September 2019, the way in which pupils are assessed will change to reflect the requirements set out in the Professional Statement for Barristers, and the minimum funding award for pupillage will increase to £18,436 per annum for pupillages in London and £15,728 per annum for pupillages outside London, taking into account the Living Wage Foundation's minimum hourly rates. The minimum pupillage funding award will increase annually in January thereafter;
  • in December 2020, the first assessment for the new-look Civil Litigation centralised assessment within the vocational component of learning will begin. The Civil Litigation syllabus and examination will incorporate dispute resolution (which was previously a Provider-set assessment). The exam will be split into two parts - one of which will be closed book and the other will be open book; and
  • in December 2021, the first new Professional Ethics centralised assessment will take place with the BSB exam being sat during pupillage / the work-based learning component rather than during the vocational component. There will continue to be a Professional Ethics assessment during the vocational component which will be set by AETOs. 

To find out more about the changes, please click here.