The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) is set to be the first organisation approved to run the new Bar training course, which it is doing on a not-for-profit basis.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) said it intended to authorise the ICCA subject to certain conditions, and that there were eight other providers applying for authorisation for when the new course begins in September 2020.
These are: the University of Law, University of Northumbria, BPP University, Cardiff University, Nottingham Trent University, City University, University of the West of England, and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Under the Bar Standards Board’s Future Bar Training reforms, there will be four ‘managed pathways’ to qualification in a bid to move away from the more prescriptive approach of the Bar professional training course (BPTC).
They offer different combinations of the academic, vocational and professional stages of training, including an apprenticeship where all are combined into one.
One of the pathways splits the vocational component into two parts: a knowledge part to be completed and assessed prior to undertaking a skills part, focusing on advocacy and other soft skills.
It is this that the ICCA wants to provide, and it has said its course would be 30% cheaper than the average cost of the current BPTC in London.
The conditions include the ICCA registering with the Office for Students (OfS) and the Quality Assurance Agency undertaking a quality and standards review. Authorisation will be for five years from the date of signing a contract with the BSB.
In a statement, the ICCA said that, subject to these final steps, it would take applications from December 2019 from students wishing to embark on the course from September 2020.
BSB director-general Dr Vanessa Davies said: “For the last few years we have been reviewing the way in which students train for the Bar in the hope of making that training more accessible, more affordable and more flexible while sustaining high standards.
“We are delighted that so many providers are now seeking authorisation to offer the vocational component of training for the Bar and that the ICCA’s new two-part course will add to the choice that students will have.”