Overview

1) The rules regarding exemption from any of the individual components of Bar training are set out in the BSB Handbook at Rules Q7-Q12.

2) For the academic component, students may apply to the BSB for exemption from the individual foundations of legal knowledge subjects (see Part 2A (A1) of the Bar Qualification Manual).

Application – Certificate of Exemption

3) Students may apply to the BSB for exemption on a subject-by-subject basis. If the application is successful, a student will be granted either:

  • a Certificate of Partial Exemption – exemptions granted from some, but not all, of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects; or
  • a Certificate of Full Exemption – exemptions granted from all of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects.

4) Any of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects outstanding after the award of a Certificate of Partial Exemption must be taken and passed within a Graduate Diploma in Law course (GDL).

5) Certificates of Exemption granted by the BSB remain valid for five years after the award of the qualification in which the relevant foundations of legal knowledge subjects were passed.

Eligibility

6) 

Degrees awarded in England and Wales

Exemptions will only be granted based on an Honours degree awarded at lower second class honours (2:2) or above.

Degrees awarded in the Republic of Ireland

Exemptions will only be granted based on an Honours degree awarded at lower second class honours (2:2) or above.

Degrees awarded in Scotland

Exemptions will only be granted based on an Honours degree (normally a four-year course) awarded at lower second class honours (2:2) or above.

Degrees awarded outside the UK/Republic of Ireland and Postgraduate degrees where no UK undergraduate degree is held

Exemptions will only be granted based on a degree for which a Certificate of Academic Standing has been granted by the BSB.

Professional qualifications

Exemptions will only be granted where the relevant subjects have been studied to the same breadth and depth as they would be studied on a law degree or GDL.

Exclusions

7) Exemptions will not be granted based on:

  • an incomplete degree (ie a degree which has not been completed and awarded by the course provider).
  • a degree that does not meet the Bar’s minimum standard, unless the student has been granted the exercise of discretion (see Part 2A (A2) of the Bar Qualification Manual) by the BSB.
  • a degree that has become a stale qualification (see Part 2A (A6) of the Bar Qualification Manual), unless the student has been granted reactivation by the BSB.

8) Unless approval is granted by the BSB, a law degree will not be accepted for completion of the academic component of Bar training where the student has been granted exemption from one or more of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects by:

  • passing a diploma which contains some of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects;
  • passing law papers in the examinations of professional bodies;
  • passes in the Business Technology Education Council’s HND and HNC law papers or foundation degrees which do not have qualifying status; or
  • Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

9) Individual foundations of legal knowledge subject exemptions granted by a UK/Republic of Ireland course provider may not be accepted by the BSB. A student must seek confirmation from the BSB that the qualification on which the exemption is based meets the BSB’s requirements.

10) Certificates of Exemption granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority will not be accepted for completion of the academic component of Bar training.

Future requirements...

As the BSB and the SRA are taking divergent approaches to qualification as barristers and solicitors, the Joint Statement will cease to apply to either profession in the future. There is more information about these changes - and what they mean if you want to become either a barrister or a solicitor - in the Common Protocol on the Academic Component of training (see Part 2A (A7) of the Bar Qualification Manual), which we have published jointly with the SRA.

In order to become a barrister, the requirement to complete the academic component of Bar training will not change. Depending on which of the approved pathways is offered by an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO), this component may be integrated with the vocational component, rather than taken sequentially.

For those wishing to qualify as barristers, the requirements set out in the BSB's 2018-19 Academic Stage Book will remain in force for QLD/GDL courses that start in (or before) the 2018/19 academic year and will last until students on those courses complete their studies. If you require a copy of the 2018-19 Academic Stage Book, please contact the Authorisations Team.

2019/20 Academic Year

  • The SRA will continue to administer the academic component of education and training for solicitors and barristers on behalf of both regulators.
  • The concept of a QLD for the purpose of Bar training will no longer apply to law degree courses starting in (or after) the 2019/20 academic year.
  • The Bar will remain a graduate-only profession, with a minimum classification of lower second class honours (2:2). Students who do not meet the minimum standard must apply to the BSB for the exercise of discretion.
  • Students will be required to obtain a UK/Republic of Ireland degree, awarded at Level 6 (or above) of the ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications’, by a recognised degree-awarding body. If this is a law degree, it must be compliant with the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Law. If the degree is in another subject, students must complete the GDL.
  • Students who do not obtain a UK/Republic of Ireland degree of the required standard must verify the equivalence of their qualifications or experience by obtaining a Certificate of Academic Standing from the BSB.
  • Acceptable UK/Republic of Ireland law degrees and GDL courses must cover the foundations of legal knowledge subjects and the skills associated with graduate legal work (eg legal research).

2020/21 Academic Year

  • The SRA will continue to administer the academic component of education and training for solicitors only.
  • The concept of a QLD for the purpose of Bar training will no longer apply to vocational component courses starting in (or after) the 2020/21 academic year.

2021/22 Academic Year

  • The SRA will cease to be involved in the approval or recognition of new QLD/CPE courses that start in or after the 2021/22 academic year, following the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
  • Subject to further detail from the SRA in due course, we intend to allow some equivalence for part-qualified solicitors. For example, we expect that passing the SQE Stage One (which incorporates knowledge of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects) should be sufficient as an equivalent to the academic component of Bar training. This, we think, should aid students in deciding what law programme to attend, meaning that they could postpone decisions on their eventual career intentions.