BSB delays introduction of written pupillage agreements


Agreements: Plans put on ice

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has delayed plans to require chambers to enter into written agreements with pupils, which were due to come into force in just two months’ time.

The hope was that written agreements would reduce the risk of pupil barristers being subjected to “inappropriate behaviour”.

The Bar Council supported the move, saying it may help to counter “shocking” instances of abusive treatment.

The BSB also proposed to make it compulsory for chambers and other training providers to bring their pupillage recruitment timetables into line with the Pupillage Gateway.

The plan had been that these requirements would be introduced as conditions of chambers or other authorised education and training organisations being able to take pupils.

But in a statement, the BSB said: “We have now decided that, if these proposals are adopted, more time would be needed for implementation.

“We will announce the outcome of the engagement programme and any dates by which implementation would be required in due course.”

In a consultation issued in May, the BSB said the reasons for making written terms compulsory was to help pupil supervisors and pupils “understand their obligations” and to make “the pupillage experience across the Bar” more consistent.

“We also have evidence to suggest that some pupils are at risk of inappropriate behaviours and written terms, with clear policies setting out the course of action to be taken should inappropriate behaviour occur, is a way to address this.”

On recruitment, it is already compulsory for all pupillages to be advertised on the Pupillage Gateway, but training providers do not have to follow its November to May recruiting cycle – leaving the way open for early offers.

The BSB said: “Earlier or later advertisement on the gateway may disadvantage certain applicants who are less likely to be aware that these opportunities exist.

“This potentially excludes candidates from the application phase, which could be a barrier to accessing pupillage opportunities and may disproportionately affect those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”




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