If there is anything you want to raise regarding your pupillage, please phone the Pupil Helpline on 020 7611 1415 or email PupilHelpline@BarCouncil.org.uk.
What's happening with the Pupillage Gateway?
Please see the latest guidance from the Bar Council
Pupil supervisors and AETOs
Pupil supervisors should reference their training programme and assess whether any elements can be completed remotely. The Bar Standards Board has also issued guidance about pupil supervision. As far as possible, pupillage supervision should continue.
If it is judged that all or part of the supervision can be carried out remotely, and it will be possible to meet the competences in the Professional Statement in the current timeframe, AETOs should:
- Ask current supervisors to complete a written report of the pupil’s progress to date. AETOs can review the training programme in line with this report.
- Set out in writing to the pupil which parts of the training programme can be completed remotely, and which parts will need to be put on hold. The BSB's guidance has suggested some activities that may be appropriate, such as setting written exercises and organising advocacy exercises by video.
- Review current supervisors to assess whether they will be able to carry out remote supervision.
- Be mindful of putting undue on pressure on pupils to accept instructions that are not appropriate for their competence or level of experience. Reference should be made to the Handbook: “You must not accept instructions to act in a particular matter if… you are not competent to handle the particular matter or otherwise do not have enough experience to handle the matter” (rC21.8). We recognise that there is significant disruption to work patterns at present, but it is not appropriate to ask pupils to take on that burden without sufficient training or support.
If it is judged that some of the supervision can be carried out remotely, but that it won't be possible to meet the competences in the Professional Statement in the current timeframe, and a decision is made to extend the pupillage, AETOs should:
- Give consideration should be given to paragraph 1.28-1.29 in the Bar Qualification Manual:
“It is for the AETO and pupil supervisor to determine the impact of longer periods of leave (for example due to illness or bereavement) on the training programme and whether the period of pupillage should be extended to enable the pupil to meet the competences in the Professional Statement.
If the pupillage is to be extended, the AETO must notify the BSB of the new date that the pupil will be completing pupillage by completing the Notification of material change in pupillage form.”
- Ask current supervisors to complete a written report of the pupil’s progress to date. AETOs can review their training programme in line with this report.
- Give the pupils a date to which they expect the pupillage will be extended.
This should be a last resort, when all other options have been considered.
Please bear in mind that this is an uncertain and upsetting time for pupils, as it is for most members of the Bar. We would encourage AETOs to be as flexible as possible and discuss their updated plans (and any limitations) with their pupil(s).
If it is judged that none of the supervision can be carried out remotely, so the pupillage may need to be temporarily suspended:
- The Head of Chambers should contact the BSB to discuss the situation and the options that might be open to them. They should email ROD_contingency_planning@barstandardsboard.org.uk setting out what options have been considered.
- AETOs should ask current supervisors to complete a written report of the pupil’s progress to date, so that the training programme can be resumed after the pupillage is suspended.
- They should give the pupil a date by which the suspension will be reviewed and pupillage may be resumed.
It would be good practice for a senior member of the AETO to check in with the pupil on their wellbeing remotely on a regular basis. You may also want to consider signposting your pupil(s) to the Wellbeing Hub for additional resources and support.
Do we need to continue funding pupils if we decide to extend their pupillage?
The BSB has said that AETOs should continue to meet their obligations to fund pupils during any period of suspension and for the remainder of the pupillage when it is resumed, at least to the minimum level of pupillage funding. If AETOs find themselves unable to fund a suspension in pupillage, please refer to the Bar Council guidance on financial support measures for self-employed barristers and chambers. Please also refer to the Inns of Court websites for information on hardship funds for members.
If pupils are self-isolating under Public Health England guidelines, we recommend that AETOs continue to provide a pupillage award for at least 14 days (or 10 working days), as per the guidance on self-isolation periods.
Please note that consideration should be given as to whether the pupillage should be extended in these circumstances. If the pupillage is to be extended, the AETO must notify the BSB of the new date that the pupil will be completing pupillage by completing the Notification of material change in pupillage form.
Deferring the start of pupillages
Further to the Bar Standards Board guidance in relation to this issue, AETOs should note that any future non-EEA pupil barrister must begin their pupillage within 24 months from the first day that the relevant position was advertised. If the relevant pupil barrister begins their pupillage any later then the position will fail to meet the Resident Labour Market Test.
Ias it possible to continue the pupillage recruitment process but reduce the advertised award?
AETOs are permitted to reduce the advertised award provided that they make the change known to the relevant candidate(s) at the point of offer (which would then provide the prospective pupil(s) with the opportunity to consider all of their options). It should be noted that AETOs are not able to reduce the award to an amount lower than £18,866 for 12-month pupillages in London, £16,322 for 12-month pupillages outside London or £20,800 for 12-month pupillages being offered to non-EEA residents (regardless of their location in England and Wales).
It should be noted that, where AETOs intend to make an offer of pupillage to a non-EEA resident, any changes to the advertised award might result in a failure to meet the Resident Labour Market Test. AETOs would be able to lower their award within the advertised earnings bracket on the Pupillage Gateway of e.g. £30,000 - £39,999, but only where they had not specified a sum within the advertisement description.
Tenancy decisions are coming up soon. How should we manage this?
AETOs should handle conversations about tenancy very sensitively. It is not acceptable to use the tenancy process to compel pupils to take on instructions that are above their competence or that would require them to contravene the advice of Public Health England.
It is important to be transparent about how the tenancy decision timetable may be affected and try to mitigate any delays as much as possible.
If you are a pupil supervisor or you are otherwise involved in pupillage within your AETO, and you would like further support or guidance, you can get in touch with the Pupils’ Helpline on 020 7611 1415 or email PupilHelpline@BarCouncil.org.uk. We are also keen to share good practice, so please get in touch if you would like to share your experiences.