24 August 2019

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Baroness Blackstone

This year's annual Authorisation to Practise (AtP) process opened at the end of February. If you have not done so already, please ensure that you renew your practising certificate by 31 March at the latest.

When completing AtP, you will need to pay your Practising Certificate Fee (PCF) and make a number of obligatory regulatory declarations to us about your practice, including a declaration that you complied with your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements in 2018.

You will also be asked to provide the data we need to monitor the diversity of the profession. Please do answer these questions. We do need accurate data across the whole profession to inform our annual diversity reporting and our whole regulatory approach to promoting equality and diversity at the Bar.   

You should complete AtP online by logging into your account on  MyBar, so you will need to make sure that the email address you used to register is accurate and up-to-date. You can read more about this year's AtP on our website.

As I mentioned last month, we are recruiting two new barrister Board members. The successful applicants will work with me and my fellow Board members to govern and oversee the work of the BSB. We are seeking applications from a wide variety of practice backgrounds and  we would particularly welcome applications from those at the employed Bar or practising outside London and the south-east to complement the skills and experience of our existing Board members The closing date for applications is 9am on Monday 25 March 2019. More information is available on  our website.

At the end of March, we expect to publish a new version of the BSB Handbook to include:

  • new Bar Qualification Rules, following our review of Bar training over the past few years, our approval of the  new rules in October 2018, and their subsequent approval by the Legal Services Board;
  • changing the rules which apply the criminal standard of proof to professional misconduct proceedings to the civil standard of proof for all alleged breaches of the Code occurring after 31 March 2019, following our  consultation in 2017; and
  • in the event of there being a "no-deal" Brexit, changes to the rules regarding Registered European Lawyers.

We will provide more details on the above in next month's Regulatory Update including information about when and how we will implement various aspects of the new Bar Qualification Rules. In the meantime, if you are a Pupil Supervisor or represent an organisation which provides pupillages and you are not already aware of the changes relating to pupillage, you should familiarise yourself with them on  our website.

If you are currently an organisation authorised by us to provide pupillage then you will need  to be authorised under the new rules. We asked you to complete a survey about this in 2018. We are analysing your responses, but in the meantime, you will be able to continue providing pupillages for the time being and we will be in touch with you later this year. If your organisation has not completed the survey, then you must do so as soon as possible.

Last November, we announced that our new Independent Decision-Making Body (IDB)  which will take decisions about disciplinary action and hear appeals against executive decisions such as those regarding waivers, authorisations and licenses, would start operating in June 2019. Our proposed new method for assessing incoming information, the Contact and Assessment Team, was scheduled to begin at the same time. In order to ensure, however, that both can benefit fully from our new Case Management System, which is currently under development, we have decided that they will now start operating from October.

Finally, I would like to welcome all those pupils currently on their second six to whom we are  sending Regulatory Update for the first time this month. These emails contain important regulatory information, so please do look out for them every month.