1. When can the term “barrister” be used?

This section explains the important distinction between unregistered barristers and practising barristers.

Unregistered barristers

1.1) A person may become, and remain, an unregistered barrister without undertaking pupillage. The Qualification Rules allow a student to be called to the Bar after completing the vocational component of training, without having commenced pupillage. As an unregistered barrister, you can provide any legal services that are not reserved legal activities. However, there are some important rules in the BSB Handbook which you need to follow in doing so.

1.2) Further guidance about unregistered barristers is available.

Practising barristers

BSB Handbook

Rule s6 in the BSB Handbook determines that you must not carry on any reserved legal activity unless you are entitled to do so under the Legal Services Act.

Under the Legal Services Act certain legal services are reserved to those who are authorised to provide them. For barristers, only those who have practising certificates are authorised persons. Such services are known as ‘reserved legal activities’ which are as follows:

  • the exercise of a right of audience;
  • the conduct of litigation;
  • reserved instrument activities;
  • probate activities; notarial activities;
  • the administration of oaths.

A person who intends to practise as a barrister is required to train as a pupil for a period of not less than twelve months and complete such further training as may be required by the BSB.

Rule s8 provides that if you are an individual and do not have a practising certificate, you may not practise as a barrister and you are not authorised by the BSB to carry on any reserved legal activity. It is a criminal offence to carry out a reserved legal activity without being authorised to do so.

Rule s9 defines practising as a barrister as including holding yourself out as a barrister while providing legal services. The restriction on ‘holding out’ prevents barristers who do not have a practising certificate but who are supplying or offering to supply legal services from using the title ‘barrister’ or otherwise conveying the impression that they are practising as barristers.

1.3) A person practises as a barrister if either they hold themselves out as a barrister or exercise a right that they have by reason of being a barrister, in connection with the supply of legal services.

1.4) A practising certificate is required to practise as a barrister. To become qualified to take up a practising certificate as a barrister, and so become a practising barrister, a person must complete (or be exempted from) pupillage and satisfy such further requirements as are set out in the BSB Handbook.

New requirements

There are no planned changes to the requirements in this section, at this time
 

2. The non-practising period of pupillage

This section should be understood by both pupils and pupil supervisors. It is crucial for both to understand:

  • what pupils are permitted to do during the non-practising period; and
  • the processes that must be followed to ensure that the completion of this period of pupillage is properly notified to the BSB and that Authorisation to Practise is obtained for the practising period that follows.

It is a breach of the BSB Handbook to practise as a barrister without a practising certificate. It is also a criminal offence to undertake any reserved legal activities when not authorised to do so.

Accepting instructions in the non-practising period of pupillage

2.1) A pupil in the non-practising period does not hold a practising certificate. Therefore, a pupil may not accept client instructions or supply legal services as a practising barrister. However, a pupil may, in addition to their normal training, draft a noting brief, provided that they have the permission of their pupil supervisor or (in their absence) the Head of Chambers or equivalent, in line with Rule C116 of the BSB Handbook. A pupil undertaking a noting brief may describe themselves as a pupil barrister in this instance.  

Undertaking work outside of pupillage in the non-practising period of pupillage

2.2) A pupil in the non-practising period may provide unreserved legal services in any other capacity. A pupil may provide pro bono advice or undertake voluntary work for organisations such as Justice, Liberty, the Free Representation Unit, Citizens Advice or in Law Centres. However, in this instance, a pupil should not describe themselves as a barrister or a pupil barrister and should follow the rules and guidance for unregistered barristers, as set out above.

2.3) Pupils may take part time work with the permission of the pupil supervisor, provided it does not materially interfere with training. Such experience may usefully form part of the training programme, enabling pupils to meet the competences in the Professional Statement that may otherwise be difficult to achieve in the AETO.

Completion of the non-practising period of pupillage and applying for the Provisional Practising Certificate

2.4) It is a breach of the BSB Handbook to practise as a barrister without a practising certificate. It is also a criminal offence to undertake any reserved legal activities when not authorised to do so (in accordance with the Legal Services Act 2007). For these reasons, practising pupils are issued with Provisional Practising Certificates.

BSB Handbook

Rule Q4 To obtain a provisional practising certificate a barrister must:

.1 have successfully completed a period of pupillage satisfactory to the BSB.

What pupil supervisors must do at the conclusion of the non-practising period of pupillage

2.5) At the successful conclusion of the non-practising period of pupillage, the pupil supervisor must complete the Non-practising period completion form. Pupil supervisors must not confirm that requirements have been met if the pupil has not reached the required standards.

2.6) If the pupil supervisor is unavailable to sign the form, the Head of Pupillage or the Head of Chambers, or equivalent, may sign the form confirming completion, provided that they provide reasons why the pupil supervisor was unable to sign and are satisfied the requirements have been met.

2.7) The form must be submitted to the BSB by the pupil.

What pupils must do at the conclusion of the non-practising period of pupillage

2.8) Pupils should promptly submit the completed form by email to pupillagerecords@barstandardsboard.org.uk

2.9) There is likely to be a short delay between completion of the non-practising period and when the pupil will be able to exercise a right of audience as part of the practising period of pupillage. In order to reduce the delay, pupils are urged to submit the form to the BSB, signed by the pupil supervisor, as soon as possible on successful completion of the non-practising period.

2.10) If the pupil supervisor is prepared to sign the form in advance, the BSB will accept the signed form one week in advance. The form will still need to indicate the full dates of the non-practising period.

2.11) The relevant compulsory courses must be satisfactorily completed by the end of the non-practising period of pupillage - see Part 2C (C5) of the Bar Qualification Manual. If these courses have not been completed during this period, the non-practising period of pupillage will need to be extended accordingly.

What the BSB does at the conclusion of the non-practising period of pupillage

2.12) If we are satisfied that the pupil has satisfactorily completed the non-practising period and registered a practising period of pupillage, we will issue a Provisional Practising Certificate electronically. This allows the pupil to practise in the practising period of pupillage.

2.13) The BSB no longer issues a Provisional Qualification Certificate for the practising period of pupillage.

3. The practising period of pupillage

This section should be understood by both pupils and pupil supervisors. It is crucial for both to understand:

  • what pupils are permitted to do during the practising period; and
  • the processes that must be followed to ensure that the completion of this period of pupillage is properly notified to the BSB and that Authorisation to Practise is obtained for the practising period that follows.

It is a breach of the BSB Handbook to practise as a barrister without a practising certificate. It is also a criminal offence to undertake any reserved legal activities when not authorised to do so. Pupils regularly fail to apply for practising certificates on time and this leads to disciplinary action, which is not a good start to a professional career.

Accepting instructions in the practising period of pupillage

3.1) A pupil barrister in the practising period of pupillage may accept client instructions once they hold a valid Provisional Practising Certificate.

Undertaking work outside of pupillage in the practising period of pupillage

3.2) A pupil in the practising period may provide unreserved legal services in any other capacity. A pupil may provide pro bono advice or undertake voluntary work for organisations such as Justice, Liberty, the Free Representation Unit, Citizens Advice or in Law Centres. However, in this instance, a pupil should not describe themselves as a barrister or a pupil barrister and should follow the rules and guidance for unregistered barristers, as set out above.

3.3) Pupils may take part time work with the permission of the pupil supervisor, provided it does not materially interfere with training.

3.4) Such experience may usefully form part of the training programme, enabling pupils to meet the competences in the Professional Statement that may otherwise be difficult to achieve in the AETO.

Legal Advice Centres

3.5) In the practising period of pupillage, a pupil may supply legal services at a designated Legal Advice Centre on a voluntary basis, provided they do not receive any fee or reward for services and do not have any financial interest.

BSB Handbook

Rule S41 You may supply legal services at a Legal Advice Centre on a voluntary or part time basis and, if you do so, you will be treated for the purposes of this Handbook as if you were employed by the Legal Advice Centre.

Rule S42 If you supply legal services at a Legal Advice Centre to clients of a Legal Advice Centre in accordance with Rule S41:

.1 you must not in any circumstances receive either directly or indirectly any fee or reward for the supply of any legal services to any client of the Legal Advice Centre other than a salary paid by the Legal Advice Centre;

.2 you must ensure that any fees in respect of legal services supplied by you to any client of the Legal Advice Centre accrue and are paid to the Legal Advice Centre, or to the Access to Justice Foundation or other such charity as prescribed by order made by the Lord Chancellor under s.194(8) of the Legal Services Act 2007; and

.3 you must not have any financial interest in the Legal Advice Centre.

Registering Youth Court advocacy work in the practising period of pupillage

3.6) If, as pupil in the practising period of pupillage, you intend to accept instructions in Youth Courts, you must register this activity with the BSB. All barristers, including pupil barristers, must declare that they have the specialist skills, knowledge and attributes necessary to work effectively with young people, as set out in the Youth proceedings competences and guidance.

BSB Handbook

rS59.6 of the BSB Handbook says that barristers and practising pupils working in the Youth Court must declare that they do so.

The BSB may refuse to issue a practising certificate if a barrister has not made the declarations required by the BSB in relation to Youth Court work.  

3.7) This registration forms part of the process for pupils when registering for a Provisional Practising Certificate. Pupils can also register later in pupillage if their circumstances change and they undertake Youth Court work when they did not expect to. To do so, pupils can email pupillagerecords@barstandardsboard.org.uk

3.8) The introduction of these requirements followed our Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review in 2015. This Review found that standards of advocacy in the Youth Court were variable and as a result the interests of some of the most vulnerable people within the criminal justice system were not being adequately represented.

3.9) If pupils are going to be doing work in the Youth Courts, AETOs need to ensure that they understand the competences and guidance and build this into pupillage training.

3.10) It is important to remember that by declaring themselves as intending to do the work, pupils are declaring that they meet the requirements set out within the competences. This does not mean that they are competent to undertake any case in the Youth Court, simply that they meet the competences as they apply to the cases in which they are likely to be instructed. 

Completion of the practising period of pupillage and applying for a Practising Certificate

BSB Handbook

rQ5 To obtain a full practising certificate a barrister must:

.1 have successfully completed a further period of pupillage satisfactory to the BSB;

.2 pay such fee or fees as may be prescribed.

What pupil supervisors must do at the conclusion of the practising period of pupillage

3.11) At the successful conclusion of the practising period of pupillage, the pupil supervisor must complete the Practising period completion form to confirm that the pupil has met the competences in the Professional Statement (for pupillages starting on or after 1 September 2019). Pupil supervisors must not confirm that requirements have been met if the pupil has not reached the required standards.

3.12) If the pupil supervisor is unavailable to sign the form, the Head of Pupillage or the Head of Chambers, or equivalent, may sign the form confirming completion, provided that they provide reasons why the pupil supervisor was unable to sign and are satisfied the requirements have been met.

3.13) The form must be submitted to the BSB by the pupil.

What pupils must do at the conclusion of the practising period of pupillage

3.14) The relevant compulsory courses must be satisfactorily completed by the end of the practising period of pupillage see Part 2C (C5) of the Bar Qualification Manual. If these courses have not been completed during this period, the practising period of pupillage will need to be extended accordingly.

3.15) Pupils should promptly submit the completed form (together with the completed pupillage and specialist checklists, for pupillages that commenced before 1 September 2019) by email to pupillagerecords@barstandardsboard.org.uk

3.16) Pupil training records should be kept by both the pupil and AETO for a minimum of five years, as these may be required for Supervision by the BSB.

3.17) If we are satisfied that the pupil has satisfactorily completed the practising period we will confirm eligibility for a full Practising Certificate, a pupil may apply for a full Practising Certificate in order to continue practising.

3.18) A Provisional Practising Certificate is valid for 30 days after the end date of pupillage to give pupils time to apply for a full Practising Certificate.

3.19) Please refer to the appropriate guidance on our website if you are commencing self-employed or employed practice. If you are commencing practice after pupillage, you will need to make an application for a Practising Certificate through MyBar. If you have not yet set up your MyBar account, you will need to complete the First Time Login process. Please see the First Time Login Guide for details.

3.20) If you are not commencing practice following pupillage, please email the Records Office records@barcouncil.org.uk advising them the date that you ceased practising following the completion of your pupillage.