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3. Pupillage funding

All pupillages of self-employed barristers, chambers and BSB authorised bodies must be funded in accordance with the Pupillage Funding Rules in the BSB Handbook. The responsibility to fund pupils lies with the AETO. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that pupils receive a regular, minimum income throughout pupillage and it supports equality of opportunity.

Other types of AETOs must abide by the National Living Wage legislation.

Minimum pupillage funding requirements

3.1) All pupils must be paid no less than a minimum amount, specified by the BSB.

3.2) For pupillages commencing before 1 September 2019 the minimum amount is £12,000 per annum, which is £1,000 per month plus expenses as set out in the rules. It can be paid in advance.

3.3) For pupillages starting on or after 1 September 2019, the minimum pupillage award is set having regard to the Living Wage Foundation’s hourly rate recommendations, which are announced in November each year, with the increase applying from January each year to all pupils who started on or after 1 September 2019.

3.4) The rate we have set is as follows:

For the period 1 September 2019 to 31 December 2019:

  • £18,436 for 12-month pupillages in London
  • £15,728 for 12-month pupillages outside London

For the period 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020:

  • £18,866 for 12-month pupillages in London
  • £16,322 for 12-month pupillages outside London

This means that all pupils who started on or after 1 September 2019 must be paid at the new rate from 1 January 2020. Monthly payments to pupils who started on or after 1 September 2019 will need to be adjusted accordingly in order to comply with this requirement.

3.5) The London rate applies to all pupillages that are based in London boroughs in the Greater London area as defined here: https://directory.londoncouncils.gov.uk/. This will normally be the address of the AETO where the pupil is based. Where the AETO has more than one office, AETOs should set out in writing to any pupil being offered pupillage, at the time an offer is made, where the pupillage is based and whether or not the London rate applies.

3.6) Minimum monthly payments to pupils continue to be mandatory (ie. the total divided by 12) but flexibility is permitted to allow upfront payments. In the practising period, AETOs must continue to cover the difference between a pupil’s earnings and the minimum monthly amount. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that pupils receive a regular, minimum income throughout pupillage.

3.7) The minimum award for pupillages commencing on or after 1 September 2019 will be increased in future with effect from 1 January each year. Increases will be announced in November each year following publication of the Living Wage Foundation's calculations for the year ahead.

3.8) You should ensure that you are familiar with the full rules, which also cover payment of expenses. The BSB Handbook sets out the specific requirements:

BSB Handbook

Rule C113 The members of a set of chambers or the BSB entity must pay to each non-practising pupil (as appropriate), by the end of each month of the non-practising period of their pupillage no less than:

.1 the specified amount; and

.2 such further sum as may be necessary to reimburse expenses reasonably incurred by the pupil on:

.3 travel for the purposes of their pupillage during that month; and

.4 attendance during that month at courses which they are required to attend as part of their pupillage.

Rule C114 The members of a set of chambers, or the BSB entity, must pay to each practising pupil by the end of each month of the practising period of their pupillage no less than:

.1 the specified amount; plus:

.2 such further sum as may be necessary to reimburse expenses reasonably incurred by the pupil on:

.a travel for the purposes of their pupillage during that month; and

.b attendance during that month at courses which they are required to attend as part of their pupillage; less

.c such amount, if any, as the pupil may receive during that month from their practice as a barrister; and less

.d such amounts, if any, as the pupil may have received during the preceding months of their practising pupillage from their practice as a barrister, save to the extent that the amount paid to the pupil in respect of any such month was less than the total of the sums provided for in sub-paragraphs Rule C114.2.a and b above.

Rule C115 The members of a set of chambers, or the BSB entity, may not seek or accept repayment from a chambers pupil or an entity pupil of any of the sums required to be paid under Rules C113 and C114 above, whether before or after they cease to be a chambers pupil or an entity pupil, save in the case of misconduct on their part.

Rule C116 If you are a self-employed barrister, you must pay any chambers pupil for any work done for you which because of its value to you warrants payment, unless the pupil is receiving an award or remuneration which is paid on terms that it is in lieu of payment for any individual item of work.

3.9) In the practising period of pupillage, the monthly minimum amount may be made up by payments from the AETO (in accordance with rules C113 and C114) or earnings received from practising as a pupil barrister, or a mixture of the two.

3.10) Rules C114.2.c and .d allow AETOs to recoup some or all of the payments made to pupils in their practising period of pupillage, from earnings the pupil receives over that minimum amount, up to the amount that they have funded. For example, if an AETO had to top-up the pupil’s earnings by an amount of £500 to reach the monthly minimum, the AETO could recover that in a subsequent month, provided the pupil earns at least the monthly minimum amount.

3.11) AETOs should not, however, profit from any pupillage. In other words, they should not recoup more than they have paid to top up to the minimum funding level. Rules C113 to 115 combine in effect to prohibit an AETO from attempting to profit from pupillage.

3.12) AETOs may, of course, choose not to recoup such payments or guarantee a higher level of income that the minimum that we specify.

3.13) AETOs are required to pay travel expenses for pupils travelling for the purposes of their pupillage, in addition to the minimum funding requirement. AETOs are not required to pay expenses for pupils for travel for the purposes of practice as a barrister, ie. for work for which they will receive fees.

3.14) AETOs must make clear, in writing, the funding arrangements at the time an offer for pupillage is made so that there are no surprises. AETOs can do this by providing the prospective pupil with a copy of their pupillage policy. This is an area where lack of clarity leads to complaints by pupils to the BSB.

Transferring lawyers

3.15) Transferring lawyers no longer have an automatic exemption from the pupillage funding rules. AETOs would have to apply for a waiver in individual cases.

Waivers from pupillage funding requirements

3.16) Waivers from funding requirements will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Each case will be considered individually on its own merits. The responsibility to fund pupils lies with the AETO. The AETO must apply for a waiver from the Pupillage Funding Rules if it does not or cannot fund a particular pupil.

3.17) Pupils themselves cannot enter into agreements to undertake unfunded pupillages, nor apply for waivers from the Pupillage Funding Rules.

3.18) One situation that might be accepted as exceptional circumstances to justify a waiver from the funding requirements is where an international student wishes to undertake pupillage in England and Wales in order to practise in their home jurisdiction. Each application on this basis will be considered on its own merits.

3.19) Pupils who were granted exemption from the vocational component of training (e.g. transferring lawyers) are no longer automatically exempt from the pupillage funding rules.

Inns Awards

3.20) The Inns have some awards for the pupillage year. For information, contact each Inn of Court (see Part 3A of the Bar Qualification Manual).

3.21) In addition, The Council of the Inns of Court has a matched funding scheme for AETOs to provide additional pupillages in AETOs predominantly engaged in legally aided work.

The Legal Education Foundation

3.22) The Justice First Fellowship Scheme supports students and pupils committed to public interest and social justice issues who want to pursue a career in social welfare law.

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