Students delayed in using barrister title under new rules

Bar Vocational Course (BVC) students will no longer be able to call themselves barristers until they have completed pupillage under new regulations passed by the Bar Council.

At a meeting earlier this month, the council resolved that from 1 September 2008, call to the bar should be deferred until the completion of a satisfactory period of pupillage.

At present, passing the BVC admits students to the bar and they gain the right to call to use the title barrister. However until they have completed a period of pupillage they are unable to practise.

The anomaly singles the bar out from other professions such as the solicitors’ profession where the title is conferred only when a person has completed a training contract.

The council also resolved that no special provisions would be made which permit any particular group of students to be called to the bar on terms that are not open to other students.

When deferral of call was initially proposed special provisions were to be made to permit oversees students from the Commonwealth to be called without taking pupillage here.

However the council has been advised this would raise difficulties in respect of EU law and could lay the council open to litigation on the grounds of direct discrimination.