9 Jan 2024

The BSB has launched a three-month public consultation to seek views on our proposed approach to revising the definition of academic legal training and to dealing with consequential waivers and exemptions.

Training for the Bar has three components: academic, vocational and work based. We have been reviewing the current rules governing the requirements for successful completion of the academic component of training for practice at the Bar and we think that they no longer effectively promote our objectives of maintaining high standards, flexibility, accessibility, and affordability.

The BSB therefore proposes to simplify the current definition of academic legal training so that it is easier to understand and apply. The revised definition will take into account various requirements that are currently dispersed across the BSB Handbook, the Bar Qualification Manual and the Curriculum and Assessment Strategy into one single definition. The details of what constitutes academic legal training will be set out in our Curriculum and Assessment Strategy.   

We believe that vocational training providers are best placed to determine whether or not someone is ready to commence the vocational component of training. They already make admissions decisions and the proposals will enable them to make decisions about students who would normally have come to us to request waivers and exemptions. They will do this in line with guidance that we develop. We will want to see clear evidence of how the guidance is being applied to ensure that standards are being maintained and how organisational policies (particularly those relating to equality, diversity and inclusion) will inform their application of the guidance.

We also propose that training providers should be the ones to decide whether non-graduates or overseas applicants should be allowed to start a Graduate Diploma in Law course again in accordance with guidance which we would set.

The consultation will be open until 29 April 2024 and you can read the full consultation document, containing the proposals, here.



Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

About the BSB’s Authorisations Review

The BSB’s Authorisations Review was established to improve the decision-making processes in relation to all waivers and exemptions in the Authorisations Team.  The aim of the review is to ensure that our processes are aligned with our approach to outcomes-focused regulation, reflect natural justice, and promote transparency, efficiency, rationality and consistency in decision-making.

Initial work on the project revealed that there are significant issues with the rules in the Handbook, and the related exemptions and waiver provisions. Various aspects of the authorisation process are overly complex and unwieldy and need simplifying.

The review has been split into four phases, with the first phase looking at the definition of academic legal training and exemptions. Subsequent phases will involve reviewing the rules relating to transferring qualified lawyers, dealing with other specific authorisations exemptions which do not fall into previous categories and reviewing the approach to “uncommon” waivers granted under rI5 of the BSB Handbook.

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 07432 713 328 or email [email protected].

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