The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has agreed to allow new routes for would-be barristers to qualify, including the two-stage course proposed by the Bar Council and the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC).
The Bar Council/COIC model to split the training, currently undertaken through the Bar Professional Training Course which costs up to £20,000, would see an initial knowledge element, that must be passed before candidates progress to the skills-based part of the course at law school.
The BSB said the proposal was supported by the ‘great majority’ of respondents to the consultation on the Future of Training for the Bar, launched last year, which overall received more than 1,100 respondents.
More than 500 barristers, including the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolfe, signed an open letter to the BSB supporting the proposal and raising concern about other options put forward by the regulator.
The BSB has published criteria for the new courses and said it will publish and consult on an ‘authorisation framework’, which it expected it to be in place from the 2018/19 academic year.
The timing of new courses being approved, it said, will depend on providers coming forward with plans.
BSB Chair, Sir Andrew Burns said: ‘Our role as the regulator is not to design the courses themselves, but to set a robust framework for authorising course providers.’
He said: ‘We look forward to more flexible, accessible and affordable training courses in future which will maintain the high intellectual and professional standards demanded at the Bar.’