January 2021 - HMCTS has confirmed that there may be certain permissible reasons why pupils can leave home as part of their pupillage.
Pupil supervisors should bear in mind that the default is that – where possible – pupils should be permitted to work from home. However, there are certain exceptions.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 4 January 2021, every person living in England is currently considered to be located in a Tier 4 area.
Schedule 3A, Part 1, of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020, covers the Government’s prescribed exceptions for leaving a home located in a Tier 4 area.
Non-practising or First Six Pupils
Under Schedule 3A, Part 1, Paragraph 6(3)(h) people may leave home if “it is reasonably necessary for the purposes of preparing for work through a skills programme consisting of (i) a work experience placement, or (ii) work preparation training”; or under paragraph 6(3)(k) people may leave home if “it is reasonably necessary for the purposes of professional training that is working towards an external accreditation recognised by a professional body”.
It is therefore possible for non-practising pupils to leave home for matters relating to their training and supervision, such as attending court to shadow a barrister or to attend chambers to complete a specific activity, if it is reasonably necessary. Please note that when attending court, it is wise to confirm with the court that the non-practising pupil will be permitted to enter, as there are some restrictions on numbers in court. The Bar Council judges that, while it is permitted, the starting point should always be to facilitate supervision from home wherever possible during the third national lockdown.
Where non-practising or first six pupils undertake work, for example, a noting brief, in addition to the above the regulations applicable to practising or second six pupils (below) will be relevant.
Practising or Second Six Pupils
Under Schedule 3A, Part 1, Paragraph 2(5)(e)
people may leave home if “it is reasonably necessary … to fulfil a legal obligation or to participate in legal proceedings”.
This section of the Regulations allows practising barristers to leave their home, travel and stay in alternative accommodation in order to undertake work and fulfil their obligations to their clients and to the courts. This applies to any barrister fulfilling a legal obligation, including practising/second six pupils, third six pupils, and full qualified practising barristers.
Furthermore, barristers are included in the Government’s list of critical (or ‘key’) workers and fall under the heading of “those [persons] essential to the running of the justice system”.
It is also possible for practising pupils to leave home for other matters relating to their supervision, under paragraphs 6(3)(h) and 6(3)(k) (see above). More generally, any person can leave home for the purposes of work if “it is reasonably necessary”, pursuant to paragraph 2(5)(a).
The starting point should remain to facilitate supervision from home wherever possible; the question should always be (for barristers and pupils alike) is it “reasonably necessary” to leave home.