The Bar Standards Board has promised to commission an independent review into this summer’s bar school exams, as the profession prepares to confront the regulator about its 'diabolical' handling of the situation. 

The BSB has said that an independent review into the handling of three core Bar Professional Training Course assessments will be commissioned. The review will report to BSB’s governance, risk and audit committee and it is understood that the results will be published in due course.

The regulator was inundated with complaints after technical issues meant some students were unable to sit the online tests. Others claim they were temporarily locked out of the exams meaning they lost chunks of their allotted time, while students at test centres were banned from drinking water at their desks.

A group of barristers will meet the BSB tomorrow morning to discuss options. Hundreds of students have called for the BSB to waive the requirement that BPTC students pass the centralised exams before they are called to the bar.

However, some members of the profession have suggested that students attend barrister-led seminars in place of the centralised assessments. The bar is also organising for a letter to be sent to all heads of chambers urging them not to rely on this year’s BPTC results when recruiting pupils.

In a meeting attended remotely by almost 80 students and lawyers this afternoon, one barrister said the exams had been ‘diabolically organised’, while another said they appeared to be ‘discriminatory’.

In its latest statement, the BSB said it ‘very much regrets’ the difficulties that some students have encountered. It added that it intends to offer everyone who took a computer-based exam and experienced a technical failure that prevented them from accessing or completing their exam the chance to take a pen and paper exercise in a secure venue and as soon as possible.