The bar regulator has beaten a retreat on controversial plans to limit the role that the centuries-old Inns of Court play in the training of barristers.
In a consultation paper published last October, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) proposed a number of options for the Inns, including asking whether the BSB itself should take over in carrying out educational and ‘fit and proper person’ checks on pupil barristers.
Another option floated was for the BSB could remove the requirement for mandatory qualifying sessions – of which there are currently 12. But the BSB conceded today that the Inns are ‘uniquely placed’ to provide this ’important function’. The BSB said it will consider in more detail how many sessions would be appropriate and the detail of the oversight arrangements to be put in place.
In a policy statement published today the BSB said it will also continue to;
. Require student membership of an Inn;
. Require a minimum number of professional development events provided by the Inns;
. Oversee students intending to become barristers, but with ’strengthened oversight arrangements’ between the Inns and the BSB;
However, a ‘standard’ disclosure and barring service check at the point of call to the bar will now be required.
Ewen MacLeod, director of strategy and policy at the BSB, said: ‘The Inns of Court play an important role throughout a barrister’s career and most of the consultation responses that we received reflect a desire for their continued involvement. It was felt by most respondents that both student membership of an Inn and participating in a minimum number of qualifying sessions add real value to barrister training.’
The proposals form part of the BSB’s Future Bar Training plans. The new rules are expected to come into effect in 2019.
Among critics of the BSB’s plans was representative body the Bar Council which said in January that the Inns ‘play a fundamental role in nurturing and developing the shared culture of the bar’.
Any rule changes required to implement the new training strategy will go to the Legal Services Board for approval.