COIC invites comment on the Inns’/Bar Council Proposal (2016)
Please note that this consultation closed on 23 December 2016.
The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) encouraged members of the Bar to respond to the latest Bar Standards Board’s ‘Future Bar Training’ (FBT) consultation.
Inns of Court and Bar Council's position
For reasons that are not clear, the BSB have not included the two-part BPTC model proposed by the Inns of Court and Bar Council in previous responses to FBT consultations, as well as the BSB debate held on 7 July 2016. At that debate, Derek Wood CBE QC, Chair of the COIC Training Reform Working Group, proposed our two-part model. Follow this link to see his full speech (paragraph 19 summarises the Inns’ model)
In short, the present consultation sets out three options for reform. The third option, ‘Option C: The Bar Specialist Approach’, is outlined and then rejected by the BSB. On first reading, Option C appears to be the Inns/Bar Council model. It is not. Instead, Option C proposes there should be a ‘Bar Entrance Exam’ (BEE) covering the knowledge elements of the qualifying law degree, as well as legal procedure. The BEE is rejected by the BSB on the basis that it is a significant departure from the present BPTC, would present a challenge for the BSB to formulate, and it would require significant up-front development costs. The Inns agree that Option C should be rejected.
What the Inns and Bar Council actually proposed was that the BPTC should be split into Part One and Part Two:
Part One would cover the procedural aspects of the present BPTC (civil litigation, criminal litigation and so on), and would not include the subject matter of a qualifying law degree. Students could study for Part One of the BPTC in any way they wish, including but not limited to online study. They would still sit the litigation assessments that already exist and which do not need reinventing.
Part Two of the BPTC will be an attended course covering the skills presently taught on the BPTC. It would be undertaken upon successful completion of Part One and would require intensive training. We have never said that it would only last three months (as the consultation sets out).
Clearly, the Inns and Bar Council support the model they propose. You may or may not. We encourage you to respond directly to the BSB and when you do, please also comment on the Inns/Bar Council model so as to enable the BSB to properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all proposals.