25 September 2018

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair, Baroness Blackstone

We have made a number of important policy decisions recently. Not least of these was our agreement in principle last month about the role of the Inns of Court in the future of Bar training.

As I am sure you are aware by now, we have been undertaking a major review over the past couple of years of all aspects of the way in which barristers train and qualify. Last month, my Board and I considered the BSB's role in prescribing the role of the Inns of Court taking into account the views of all those who very helpfully responded to our recent consultation

There is more information about our decisions on the detailed questions we posed in our consultation in this edition of Regulatory Update and in our published Policy Statement.  It is clear that the Inns play an important role throughout a barrister's career and most of the consultation responses that we received reflected support for their continued involvement before prospective barristers are Called to the Bar and whilst they are still learning. It was felt by most respondents that both student membership of an Inn and participating in a minimum number of qualifying sessions add real value to barrister training. My Board, half of whom are themselves barristers, agree with that analysis. These policy decisions will inform our drafting of the new training regulations which we will consult on later this year before they come into force in early 2019.

We will be considering the other issues raised in our recent FBT consultation - pupillage and the Authorisation Framework for new training courses - during our April and May meetings.

At the end of last month, we also published our Business Plan for 2018-19, which outlines our main priorities for the year.

As well as continuing to implement the reforms to training for the Bar, which I have already mentioned, our focus for the year will include:

  • consulting on the necessary rule changes to foster increased transparency about barristers' services. This is in line with the CMA recommendations;
  • subject to consultation, continuing to modernise our regulation by establishing a new Independent Decision-Making Body for disciplinary and authorisation decisions; and
  • adopting a new approach to how we assess incoming regulatory information.