17 Mar 2020

We are issuing this statement to outline what we are doing in response to COVID-19.

The Bar Council and the COVID-19 Working Group have also been issuing helpful guidance to the profession which you can find here

LawCare has a range of resources for staying mentally healthy during the pandemic on their website.

This statement will be kept under review and updated as necessary so please refer to our website for the latest information rather than calling or emailing us. We have limited resources and do not have the capacity to respond quickly to a large number of enquiries.


The Handbook

We know that barristers will continue to do everything they can to serve the interests of their clients and we should like to make clear that following Government or Public Health England guidance is not of course a breach of the BSB Handbook. 

More generally, the BSB Handbook also permits you to cease to act and return instructions if there is another substantial reason for doing so (Rule C26.8). As you are personally responsible for your own conduct and your professional work, in deciding whether you have another substantial reason for returning instructions you must use your own professional judgment and be able to justify your decisions and actions (Rule C20). The Bar Council’s Ethical Enquiries Service is available to assist barristers with their professional obligations under the BSB Handbook. If you decide to return instructions, you should again ensure that you comply with any relevant obligations, particularly your duties to the court and your clients (e.g. you should clearly explain to your client or solicitor the reasons for doing so).


Practice management

Chambers/entities and barristers will need to consider the impact of the Government advice and the restrictions on travel and social contact on the management of their practices. Chambers/entities should also consider how any pupils should be supported whilst the restrictions are in place and how they will maintain contact with clients. In relation to their employees, all chambers/entities should follow the Government guide for employers which can be found here.

Chambers and BSB entities should contact us if there are any significant outbreaks of COVID-19 in their practice and keep us informed if this affects their ability to service clients.


Authorisation to Practise process

The 2021 Authorisation to Practise process has now been successfully completed.


Entities

The entity renewal process for 2020-21 is now complete. We are contacting any entities with outstanding issues individually. There are no delays to current processing deadlines for entities.

Barristers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements

We have published some FAQs for barristers worried about their ability to meet their CPD requirements during the current period. You can access the FAQs here


Bar training students

(updated 2 July 2021)

The 2019/20 centralised BPTC and BTT examinations

An independent review of the August 2020 exams was commissioned and we published its report and an Action Plan on 6 May 2021. You can read more about this on our website.  

2021 Bar training exams

Students should contact their AETO – and not the BSB – about arrangements for their 2021 Bar training exams.

We have published some FAQs for Bar training students. You can read the latest version of these FAQs online.


Call to the Bar for students and transferring qualified lawyers currently overseas

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency, some international students, or those currently practising overseas who are looking to transfer to the Bar of England and Wales, may be unable to comply with the identification requirements necessary for the criminal record checks to be undertaken prior to their Call to the Bar ceremony. The BSB, therefore, is providing a waiver from the requirement to have criminal record checks undertaken for candidates for Call to the Bar in certain circumstances. Please read the Waiver criteria and guidelines for Criminal Record Checks for Inns’ student members applying for Call in 2021 to see if the waiver applies to you and, if so, what you need to do to apply. The application for a waiver should be made directly to your Inn, not to the Bar Standards Board. It is essential that you read this information carefully in order to prevent any delay to your Call.


 

Pupils and chambers / Authorised Education Training Organisations (AETOs) providing pupillages

We have published a set of FAQs covering our position on a range of issues associated with the administration, supervision and training of those currently undertaking pupillage.

If our FAQs do not answer your question, chambers and AETOs can contact us via the email authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk


Transferring Foreign Lawyers

Any BTT candidates who have reached the two-year limit within which they are authorised to take the Test can apply to the Authorisations team for an extension of time. 

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency, some international students, or those currently practising overseas who are looking to transfer to the Bar of England and Wales, may be unable to comply with the identification requirements necessary for the criminal record checks to be undertaken prior to their Call to the Bar ceremony. The BSB, therefore, is providing a waiver from the requirement to have criminal record checks undertaken for candidates for Call to the Bar in certain circumstances. Please read the Waiver criteria and guidelines for Criminal Record Checks for Inns’ student members applying for Call in 2021 to see if the waiver applies to you and, if so, what you need to do to apply. The application for a waiver should be made directly to your Inn, not to the Bar Standards Board. It is essential that you read this information carefully in order to prevent any delay to your Call. 

If our FAQs do not answer your question, you can contact us via the email authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk


Requests for Review of an Authorisation Decision 

We published a set of frequently asked questions covering our position on a range of issues associated with requests for review of an authorisation decision.

If our FAQs do not answer your question, you can contact us via the email authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk


Anti-Money laundering

We have worked together with other legal sector supervisors under the Money Laundering Regulations to publish joint guidance to manage risks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.


The BSB

Following the government announcement on 4 January 2021, we instructed our staff to work from home unless there is a strict business need for them to come to the office. We continue to have rigorous health protection measures in place in our offices for staff and visitors. We are collecting visitors’ contact details in order to comply with the Government’s guidance on “test and trace”. You can read more about this in this Privacy statement.

We aim to continue to provide a “business-as-usual” service to barristers, students and members of the public. Our staff have access to systems to work from home but we are a relatively small organisation and you may experience a delay in dealing with your query if key staff are affected.

As our staff are working at home, it may take longer than usual for items such as original certificates to reach us. Please post your mail to our usual High Holborn address and our internal redirection arrangements will ensure that it reaches the correct members of our team.  

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