Bar student loses fight with Bar Council as judge rules he must retake whole BPTC to become a barrister

A bar student has lost his fight with the Bar Council after a judge ruled that he was not allowed to retake a module of his Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) a second time.

University of Law student and would-be barrister Steven Prescott passed all modules of his Birmingham-based BPTC except the opinion writing module, which he failed twice.

On being told that he would have to retake the entire BPTC at a cost of around £14,500, Prescott challenged the Bar Council’s regulations, and its refusal to exercise any discretion outside the regulations, which forbade him to take the module a third time.

The rule governing re-sits was established in the wake of the 2008 Wood Review of the bar course, which recommended that candidates should only be allowed to re-sit exams once. It went further, prohibiting candidates from retaking the course if they failed, but this rule was amended in 2012 so that candidates who had failed could retake the course with another provider.

Prescott alleged that he had demonstrated his opinion writing skills in other modules and that the Bar Council’s insistence that he retake the course in its entirety was ‘disproportionate’.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom dismissed his claim, saying “none of the grounds is made good… the claimant has fallen very far short of persuading me that the Bar Council has acted in any way unlawfully.”