Authorisation to Practice and supporting the Bar

3 March 2016

Every year, throughout February and March, Bar Council members have to take part in the Authorisation to Practice process, which involves renewing your practising certificate, updating your professional information and paying your Practising Certificate Fee (PCF) and Bar Representation Fee. 

All barristers, self-employed and employed, must pay this compulsory fee if they wish to practise. Around two-thirds of money raised from the PCF funds the Bar Standards Board in its role as the independent regulator of the Bar. The remainder supports work on 'permitted purposes', as defined under the Legal Services Act 2007, such as promoting the rule of law.

Barristers will be able to pay their annual Practising Certificate Fee (PCF) as part of the Authorisation to Practise process which can be completed online via Barrister Connect
 
Barristers have until 31 March 2016 to renew their practising certificates, which is a compulsory part of the Authorisation to Practise process. Barristers can also pay the Bar Representation Fee during the Authorisation to Practise

Bar Representation Fee (BRF)
 
The representative body, the Bar Council, seeks financial support through the BRF, a voluntary contribution which funds essential work that cannot be funded through the PCF and which is entirely separate from the PCF. The BRF is £100 per year, and can be paid during the annual Authorisation to Practice process, or by Direct Debit at less than £8.40 a month. It helps to pay for vital Bar Council initiatives which are aimed at supporting the interests of its members, such as: 

  • The Bar Mentoring Services to help barristers develop at different stages of their careers
  • Lobbying and campaigning to government and the media on behalf of the profession on issues such as the criminal courts charge, legal professional privilege and increased court fees
  • Supporting the Young Bar through the Pupil's Helpline and online Young Bar Hub and Toolkit
  • International work: Strengthening the ties with overseas Bar associations and international legal bodies though trade missions and exchange programmes to promote the profession overseas, and
  • Providing assistance through the Ethical Enquiries Service for barristers, which, in 2015 alone responded to over 500 emails and took some 6,000 telephone enquiries.  

The BRF also gives Direct Access qualified barristers membership to the Direct Access Portal, an online public directory listing those barristers who can accept direct access instructions or offer mediation and arbitration services.

Paying the BRF also ensures personal benefits for members. These include:

  • 1 year free subscription to the monthly Counsel magazine (normally £96 per year)
  • Unlimited copies of the Certificates of Good Standing (otherwise £100 per Certificate), and
  • Discounts on Bar Council events, including the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference. 

The Bar Council has produced a useful video on its YouTube channel to help barristers through the Barrister Connect process. View the video here