Barristers have stepped in to support students struggling to sit online bar exams this week, with the shadow justice minister saying he will formally write to the regulator and ask the Inns of Court to investigate.

Dozens of students on the Bar Professional Training Course have been unable to sit core assessments because of technical issues, while one student has reported urinating in a bottle after being told repeatedly that he could not leave his desk during the three-hour assessment.

Under the rules of exam provider Pearson Vue, the exam will automatically terminate if the candidate leaves the room.

Shadow minister Karl Turner MP posted on Twitter that he will ‘formally’ write to the Bar Standards Board and will ask Middle Temple to investigate the situation. Meanwhile, Bernard Richmond QC, head of chambers at Lamb Building, called on other heads of chambers and circuit representatives to discuss writing a collective letter to the BSB.

Other barristers have offered to represent students pro bono, and employment barrister Daniel Barnett is hosting a webinar for affected students later this month.

The BSB said that it was ‘inevitable’ with any online exam that some students would face technical issues and said candidates whose computers crashed midway through the assessment would have to resit in December.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the regulator said: ‘Inevitably with any online based exam, some students did face technical issues that prevented them from accessing their exams. Pearson Vue will try to rearrange their exam to take place on another scheduled sitting date subject to availability. Students who have accessed the exam but experienced a technical failure during the course of it will be allowed to defer to December without penalty if they have not successfully completed enough of the exam to achieve a pass.’