17 September 2019

How should we recover our costs for overseeing the new Bar training rules?

Last week we launched a consultation seeking views on the charging model we propose to introduce for organisations providing Bar training. These organisations are known as Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs).

The consultation considers how we should recover our costs in authorising and supervising AETOs under the new Bar training rules and in managing the centralised examinations that form part of the qualification process for new barristers.

The new rules permit AETOs to offer training to prospective barristers under a limited number of permissible training pathways. They also introduce changes to the Bar training curriculum and how it is assessed, including running more sittings for the centralised examinations directly managed by us. These changes, which have been the subject of extensive consultation, add to our costs.

This consultation seeks views on the extent to which the costs of authorising and supervising Bar training should be met by AETOs - bearing in mind that many vocational training providers pass on these costs to students - or by the profession in the form of contributions from barristers' Practising Certificate Fees (PCF).

Regulating the vocational component of Bar training is currently being subsidised by the PCF. We do not believe that the Bar should subsidise the full costs associated with every component of training for all prospective barristers, so the fees proposed in the consultation reflect this.

The consultation also seeks views, however, on how the cost of the Professional Ethics examination to be taken during pupillage should be recovered. We propose that this should be fully subsidised by the PCF in order to avoid discouraging parts of the Bar from offering pupillage, to reduce negative equality impacts, and to support new entrants to the profession.

Subject to Legal Services Board approval, the new Bar training rules will come into force in early 2019.

The closing date for this consultation is 5.00pm on Friday 1 March 2019.