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Bar Standards Board Regulatory Update: COUNSEL February 2021

THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT DO WE DO

We regulate barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. We are responsible for:

  • establishing the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister;
  • drawing up continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers’ skills are maintained throughout their careers;
  • setting standards of conduct for barristers;
  • authorising barristers to practise, as well as organisations that focus on advocacy, litigation, and specialist legal advice;
  • monitoring the service provided by barristers and entities to assure quality; and
  • considering reported concerns about barristers and the organisations we authorise and taking enforcement or other action where appropriate.

BSB HANDBOOK UPDATED AT THE END OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD FOLLOWING THE UK’S EXIT FROM THE EU

An updated version of the BSB Handbook come into force at the end of the transition period following the UK’s exit from the EU. The changes affect Registered European Lawyers (RELs) practising at the Bar of England and Wales, and European lawyers seeking to be admitted to the Bar. They also implement provisions relating to the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement, which was agreed by the UK and Switzerland in 2018.

The new rules have applied since 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020.

BSB

We have been in frequent direct communication with those affected by these changes including RELs and those barristers with an EU address as their primary practising address. Any barristers who are habitually resident in an EU member state may find that their insurance arrangements are affected by the end of the transition period and should contact us or Bar Mutual urgently to discuss their situation. You can read more about our regulation and the UK’s exit from the EU at: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/for-barristers/bsb-handbook-and-code-guidance/information-about-the-uks-exit-from-the-eu.html

ANDREW MITCHELL QC APPOINTED AS VICE CHAIR OF THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD

In December, we announced that Andrew Mitchell QC has been appointed as our new Vice Chair for the next three years, taking effect from 1 January 2021.

The announcement follows the appointment of Naomi Ellenbogen QC as a High Court Judge, which required her to relinquish the role of Vice Chair of the BSB in November 2020, a position she had held since 2016.

Having served on the Board for six years and prior to that as a member of our Professional Conduct Committee for four years, Andrew brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to regulating the Bar in the public interest.

NEW MINIMUM FUNDING RATE FOR PUPILLAGE FROM JANUARY 2021

The minimum pupillage award is set annually, having regard to the Living Wage Foundation’s hourly rate recommendations, which are announced in November each year.

The annual increase applies from January each year to all pupils, regardless of when they started pupillage. Monthly payments to pupils must be adjusted accordingly.

The rate for the minimum pupillage award that applies from 1 January 2021 is £18,960 per annum for pupillages in London and £16,601 per annum for pupillages outside London. You can read more about this in the newly redesigned Bar Qualification Manual at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/training-qualification/bar-qualification-manual-new.html

FUTURE CHANGES TO THE UK TELEPHONE NETWORK

We have been contacted by the Legal Services Board to ask us to spread awareness of significant changes being made by Ofcom and Openreach to the telephony network that will have implications for legal service providers.

Landline

In summary, the current telephony network is over 35 years old and is to be upgraded. This upgrade has been happening for some years now, but the old telephony network will close by the end of 2025. The older analogue network supports devices that have been around for some time, such as fax machines, that won’t necessarily work when the network is digital.

The simple rule of thumb is that when the telephone line is changed to digital or “ALL IP”, it will need any device that currently plugs into a wall socket, to be plugged into the broadband router instead. It is possible that adaptors will become available on the market that will connect these devices to the broadband router, but Openreach advises that the efficacy and long-term durability of these solutions cannot be guaranteed.

There is some further information on these websites:

If you would like further information, please contact Openreach directly by emailing john.livermore@openreach.co.uk

ANNUAL AUTHORISATION TO PRACTISE PROCESS

The 2021 Authorisation to Practise (AtP) period will start in February.
During AtP, all practising barristers will be required to renew their annual practising certificates and to pay the Practising Certificate Fee (PCF).
We will provide more information about AtP soon, including details about the PCF rate bands for 2021-22.
The Records team will be in contact with you directly when AtP opens.

HAVE WE GOT THE CORRECT DETAILS OF YOUR PRACTICE ADDRESS?

Please ensure that you have informed us of your correct practice address in accordance with rS69 of the BSB Handbook. If your practice address changes, you must inform our Records Department within 28 days.

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK

If you have any thoughts about how we can improve the Professional Update or what content you would like to read, please email communications@barstandardsboard.org.uk

KeepCalm

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