Young Barristers’ Committee favours BVC entrance test

The Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC) has welcomed the Bar Standard Board’s (BSB) plans to introduce an aptitude test for entry onto the BVC.

The Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC) has welcomed the Bar Standard Board’s (BSB) plans to introduce an aptitude test for entry onto the BVC.

The test, recommended in a July 2008 report by the BVC working party chaired by Derek Wood QC of Falcon Chambers, was intended to be rolled out as part of the BSB’s wider plans, which will see the BVC replaced by the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in the autumn of 2010.

The aim of the test was to filter out students who do not have a realistic chance of passing the year-long course and thereby close the gap between the number of students undertaking the BVC and the number of pupillages.

Chairman of The Young Barristers Committee Alexander Learmonth has backed the plans and said it would help address the problem of “too many BVC students and too few pupillages”.

“Students need to be realistic and if they don’t cut it academically then they need to rethink their career options. Having a test to get on to the course will make having a BVC a lot more prestigious,” said Learmonth.

Would-be barristers are also backing the plans. BVC student Chris Snell said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea because it will cut out those who clearly shouldn’t be on the course. I mean, a girl on my course asked what the CPS was the other day – how can you say she should be on the course?”

But in a report the Office of Fair Trading said it favoured a voluntary aptitude test, as restricting pupils entering the BVC will ultimately lead to “decreased quality and availability and increased prices in the final market for advocacy services.”

The BSB said in a statement: “[The BSB is] currently developing the aptitude test. We have received comments from the Office of Fair Trading and will respond to the Ministry of Justice in due course.”