More than 500 barristers have criticised the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB’s) training plans.

In an open letter to the BSB Chair, Sir Andrew Burns, QCs, junior barristers and retired judges, including former Lord Chief Justice and Master of the Rolls Lord Woolf, voiced ‘disappointment’ at proposals in Consultation on the Future of Training for the Bar: Future Routes to Authorisation, published in October 2016 and which closed in January.

They said the reforms were ‘not guided by a proper understanding of the BSB’s statutory objective to promote and protect the public interest’, and displayed ‘little comprehension of the practical realities of the profession’.

Blasting the ‘financially crippling’ cost of the BPTC, and disparity in number of students taking it (1,500) compared to the number of puillages on offer each year (430), the letter said that the consultation failed to identify the cause of the current problems, namely that BPTC provision has become a ‘self-serving industry that has vastly outgrown its raison d’être’.

It said the focus should be on ensuring those with a ‘realistic prospect’ of pupillage receive high quality training at the most efficient cost.

The signatories favoured the proposal put forward by the Bar Council and Council of the Inns of Court, for a two-tier process whereby candidates have to pass an online exam before being able to undertake the second, more rigorous, part of the course.

The BSB said it had received a high number of responses and will consider them all before the Board comes to a final decision on the best way forward in the spring.