Top law prof to oversee independent review into summer bar exam fiasco

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BSB announces appointment of Hull Uni pro-vice chancellor Rebecca Huxley-Binns

Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has confirmed that Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns will oversee an independent review into the array of difficulties encountered by aspiring barristers during this summer’s centralised assessments.

Huxley-Binns is the pro-vice-chancellor (education) at the University of Hull having previously held the role of vice-provost, academic enhancement, at the University of Law. She will be joined by Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, a diversity and disability expert from UCL.

As previously reported by Legal Cheek, the “lessons learned review” will report to the regulator’s governance, risk and audit committee, which is composed of independent non-executive directors, and is independent of the BSB.

The probe follows a summer which saw bar students take to social media to report issues with the online exams including being locked out of the proctoring system and resorting to urinating in bottles and buckets over fears their assessments would be terminated if they went to the toilet.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Bar Course Most List

The BSB says the review will cover a range of issues including the decision to cancel the April assessments and hold computer-based exams; the delivery of the exams by proctoring company Pearson VUE; engagement with bar course providers; and the handling of reasonable adjustment needs of students.

Mark Neale, the director general of the BSB, said: “The final figures confirm that a majority of students were able to sit these exams but I can only repeat how sorry we are that so many students were unable to complete them.”

He continued:

“Clearly there are lessons to be learned by the Bar Standards Board and I am delighted that Professor Huxley-Binns will conduct this review for us and that she will have the expert advice of Dr Sarabajaya Kumar. The review will be independent of the BSB and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this issue and anyone who was affected by the difficulties experienced in August to contribute to the review.”

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The Voice of the People

They couldn’t have hoped for a better person! Completely competent and transparent. I have the pleasure of knowing her personally!


Thungus the Boogeyman

The whole course should be put in the Binns!

Bring back the BVC!!!



Typical BSB. This was a one off. It’s done. But no, it’s a diversity issues fest and therefore it’s put together a process to make good use of a short term crisis to push their obsessive agenda. I’d rather the money was not spent.



What do you suggest an organisation which controls entry into a profession should do when it receives hundreds of concerns from people about barriers to critical professional exams, for disabled people and others? Ignore it or investigate it so that, if mistakes were made, they can be understood and avoided in the future? (I am not, by the way, saying the BSB has done the right thing throughout this fiasco. Far from it).

I’m sure your comment would get lots of “upvotes” if it were posted on the Daily Mail.



So they can be better prepared when the next global pandemic comes along? The costs of fees to the BSB and the Bar Council are spiralling up and up and I do not see this review as being a prudent or justifiable use of resources.



It’s going to conclude: “With the benefit of HINDSIGHT they could’ve done (a) (b) & (c), yet they DID THEIR best and if they had done (a) (b) and (c) then Group X would have been less disadvantaged.”

The BSB will then say: “We are ENORMOUSLY GRATEFUL for all the very obvious skill, care and hard work. Lessons have been learned and we will of course implement (a) (b) and (c) immediately. We really care about Group X SO MUCH and they shall be at the forefront of our thinking moving forward.”

Can I have £100k please?

If only the BSB were so forgiving and understanding of others as they will inevitably be of themselves.

What a joke.


Arvind Babajee

Good step by the BSB, as we can say that all the online students of April were disadvantaged in a some way or another. Their exam sitting conditions were not really that what were expected from BSB.



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