25 September 2014

2015/16 Authorisation to Practise regime

A new method for calculating Practising Certificate Fees (PCF) comes into force from 2015/16. The new method will be based on your earnings rather than the number of years since you were Called to the Bar.

  • The new calculation method explained
  • 2015/16 fees for employed and self-employed barristers
  • The 2015/16 Authorisation to Practise process
  • Why the changes are necessary
  • Contacting us

The new calculation method explained

The new method of calculating the PCF will be based on your earnings rather than the number of years since you were Called to the Bar.

There will be six rates of PCF related to income bands ranging from £100 for those whose gross earnings are less than £30,000 to £1,500 for those with gross earnings over £240,001.

Earnings during the 2013/14 financial year will be used as the basis for determining the PCF for the 2015/16 year. Moving forwards, earnings during the 2014/15 financial year will be used as the basis for determining the PCF for the 2016/17 year and so forth.

The same bands will apply to both the employed and self-employed Bar. If you are an employed barrister, your 2015/16 band will be determined by your gross earnings during the 2013/14 financial year. If you are self-employed, your band will be determined by the gross fees that you earned during the 2013/14 financial year. Dual qualified practitioners will pay by reference to gross earnings in both employed and self-employed capacities.

You will be asked to declare your 2013/14 earnings during the annual Authorisation to Practise process. All practitioners will also be obliged to authorise the Bar Standards Board to validate your declared earnings with either the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, your employer or by any other appropriate means.

2015/16 fees for employed and self-employed barristers

There will be six rates of PCF related to income bands as outlined in the following table:

Gross Fee Earnings/Salary received during 2013/14

(applicable to both self-employed Bar and employed Bar)

2015/16 PCF Core Fee*

 

£0 - £30,000

£100

£30,001 - £60,000

£200

£60,001- £90,000

£400

£90,001 - £150,000

£725

£150,001 - £240,000

£1,100

£240,001 and above

£1,500

* Please note that these figures relate only to the PCF. The figures listed do not cover or apply to other levies and fees charged through the Authorisation to Practise process.

The same bands will apply to both the employed and self-employed Bar.  If you are an employed barrister your 2015/16 band will be determined by your gross salary/income during the 2013/14 financial year. If you are self-employed, your band will be determined by the gross fees that you received during the 2013/14 financial year. Dual qualified practitioners will pay by reference to gross earnings in both employed and self-employed capacities.

The 2015/16 Authorisation to Practise process

As in previous years, the 2015/16 Authorisation to Practice process must be completed online via our 'Barrister Connect' portal.

The key difference to previous years - to reflect the change in PCF calculation method - will be that you will be required to declare your earnings for the 2013/14 financial year during this process.

You will also be obliged to authorise the Bar Standards Board to validate your declared earnings with either the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, your employer or by any other appropriate means.

Your earnings declaration will be covered by the 'Declaration of Truth' that is already part of the Authorisation to Practise process. Please note that deliberately false income declarations will amount to professional misconduct; in some circumstances it is likely that it will amount to serious professional misconduct.

We have updated the 'Barrister Connect' portal to accommodate these changes to the process. This is now ready for practitioners who are required to go online to renew their practising certificates before 31 March 2015.

Why the changes are necessary

Research and consultation with the Bar during 2012 and 2013 clearly shows that the existing arrangements for calculating the PCF based on the number of years since Call are no longer considered fair or appropriate.

Some 62% of barristers surveyed in 2013 favoured of an income based PCF model; 65% opposed the continuation of the present method.

As outlined below, the new method is designed to be Simple, Fair and Enforceable.

Simple

  • The new system will operate within the existing 'Barrister Connect' Authorisation to Practise arrangements and is designed to be as simple as possible to use.
  • The same bands will apply to both the employed and the self-employed Bar to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged because of the way in which they practice.
  • There will be no requirement to maintain the existing income-based fee reduction arrangements.

Fair

  • The minimum payable by any practitioner will be £100. This will be payable by all barristers whose gross fees or gross salary was £30,000 or less.
  • The fee to be paid by all other barristers will depend upon the income band in which they fall. All barristers in the same income band will pay the same fee. The highest income band will be that for barristers earning £240,001 and above, thus capping the PCF for all barristers in this upper band.

Enforceable

  • All practitioners must provide the Bar Standards Board with the right to undertake an individual audit of declared income. Each barrister will be required to provide this through the 'Declaration of Truth' that is already part of the Authorisation to Practise process.
  • Deliberately false income declarations will amount to professional misconduct; in some circumstances, it may amount to serious professional misconduct.

The new PCF arrangements were approved by the Legal Services Board in October 2013.

Contacting us

If you have any questions about the 2015/16 Authorisation to Practise process or the changes to the method of calculating PCF, please contact PCF@BarCouncil.org.uk or our Records Team on 020 7242 0934.