Lift for trainee barristers as HSBC reinstates BPTC loan

Cash-strapped would-be barristers have been offered a vital lifeline following HSBC’s decision to relaunch its BPTC loan.

The loan, which was rolled out following a recommendation in Lord Neuberger’s high-profile report on widening access to the bar, was suspended in November 2010 while the banking giant conducted a review of the product.

Aspiring lawyers have been finding it increasingly difficult to borrow money to fund postgraduate legal courses, a problem that was exacerbated by NatWest’s recent decision to withdraw its Professional Trainee Loan Scheme from April.

An HSBC statement said: “HSBC is committed to supporting bar students and the wider legal community. Following a review we’ve taken the decision to ­continue to offer specialist commercial and retail services to the legal community via our barrister unit and we’ll shortly announce full details of the 2011 Bar Loans Scheme.”

The previous Bar Loans Scheme offered a low interest rate of 1 per cent over HSBC’s base rate and a three-year repayment holiday.

A Bar Council spokesperson welcomed the decision and called for other providers to introduce similar schemes.

BPP Law School last week launched flexible payment methods for its LPC and GDL fees to enable full-time students to spread the payments over four instalments.

The LPC giant, which like most of its rivals is planning to hike its LPC fees later this year, is also in discussions with other lenders with a view to rolling out an alternative to NatWest’s loan scheme.