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December bar exams to go ahead as planned

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BSB keeping assessments under ‘close review’ in wake of second lockdown

Bar exams will go ahead as planned next month despite the country being plunged into a second lockdown.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) confirmed the assessments are still scheduled to take place in December at venues where law schools have permission to run them, and where appropriate COVID-safe arrangements can be made.

The regulator said: “It is therefore currently our intention that the December sit will proceed on an in-person basis wherever possible. We have spoken with all bar course training providers in England and Wales delivering the exams and all have reconfirmed that arrangements are currently in place for this to happen.”

The update comes after the government announced a four-week lockdown last month but confirmed universities could remain open. The second lockdown is expected to lift on 2 December although there is speculation restrictions could be extended.

Earlier this summer bar students took to social media to report issues with the centralised assessments — civil litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics — which were shifted online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Those who encountered problems were given the option to resit in October without penalty. The BSB confirmed these went ahead as planned. Meanwhile, other students took up the regulator’s offer to defer the assessments until December, with the intention of completing them in-person.

The BSB went on to advise that any students who are vulnerable and do not wish to sit in-person exams in December should contact their law school. It stressed that bar students can defer without being penalised.

“Given the rapidly changing circumstances, we will keep things under close review and update the information provided on our website should circumstances or government advice change,” the statement continued.

Last week the BSB confirmed that it had appointed Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns, the pro-vice-chancellor (education) at the University of Hull, to oversee an independent review into the issues.

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