Pupillage Gateway: Bar Council did not expect students to wait until last minute

The Bar Council has responded to criticism of its pupillage application system, the Pupillage Gateway, saying that it had not expected students to wait until the last minute before registering to apply.

Users had experienced repeated problems, reporting that the system was slow to load pages, to log in and kept crashing. The system was unveiled by The Bar Council this year, as a replacement for the failing application processor Pupillage Portal.

A Bar Council spokesperson said today: “One factor putting pressure on the system was not only the volume of applications, which we expected, but the number of registrations from people who had not yet signed up to the system. I am not sure that we expected quite so many people to register for the first time days before the deadline.

“As soon as we were made aware of problems we extended the deadline and we hope that this will help users. It’s frustrating for everyone but we hope that nobody will have been adversely affected, since the deadline has now been extended to Friday.”

When asked what the Bar Council will do to ensure that such a glitch does not reoccur, the spokesperson replied: “We will look very closely at exactly where the problem lay. We don’t supply the service directly but we will work with the provider to understand where the problems are and to ensure that they won’t be repeated next year.”

At the launch of the Pupillage Gateway in February, training for the bar committee chairman Guy Featherstonhaugh QC insisted that the new system had been “rewritten from the ground upwards” to replace the “disparate, disjointed and disorganised” Pupillage Portal (28 Feruary 2013).

The portal experienced technical glitches of its own in 2011 when chambers received incomplete forms from around 11 per cent of applicants (19 July 2011).