Qualifying as a Guernsey Advocate - more information

 

1. Qualify as a Solicitor or Barrister of England and Wales

To qualify as an English Solicitor or an English Barrister it is necessary to meet both academic and vocational requirements as follows:

a) Academic Requirement

This can be met in one of three ways:

(i) Obtain a qualifying law degree, i.e. one that meets certain conditions set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Council, usually an LL.B; 

(ii) Obtain a non-law degree and then complete the Graduate Diploma in Law ("GDL", previously called the "CPE" and often referred to as the law 'conversion' course);

(iii) Obtain a senior status law degree which is the same as the regular LL.B but concentrated into two years, as opposed to three.

 

b) Vocational training

There are two different routes to choose from depending on whether you wish to qualify as either an English Solicitor or Barrister:-

(i) Solicitor 

If you wish to become a Solicitor then you must undertake the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which runs full-time for one academic year and afterwards complete a two year "Training Contract" with a firm of solicitors, with the training being provided in English law.

(ii) Barrister 

If you wish to become a Barrister then you must undertake the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, previously the Bar Vocational Course (BVC)) which also runs full-time for one academic year. If you wish to practice in the UK then it is also necessary to sit a "pupillage" within a set of chambers for one year.

 

Lawyers from other jurisdictions

If you hold a legal qualification from another jurisdiction it is possible to convert this by taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) which enables certain lawyers to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales.

This is often completed by way of distance learning and there are four exams:Property, Litigation, Professional Conduct & Accounts and Principles of Common Law.

Before sitting the tests, all candidates will be required to apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a Certificate of Eligibility.

 

2. Complete a Pupillage in Guernsey

Before being permitted to sit the Guernsey Bar Exams, prospective Advocates are required to complete a period of at least six months' pupillage with a firm of Guernsey Advocates under the supervision of a Pupil Master who must be a Guernsey Advocate of at least five years' standing [Practice Direction 2 of 2011]. For barristers who have not completed at least six month's of pupillage in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Island, the total period of pupillage under a Guernsey Advocate required before a prospective Advocate is called to the Guernsey Bar is twelve months [Bar Ordinance, 1949, as amended]. However, only six months of this period needs to have been completed before a candidate is able to sit the Guernsey Bar Exams.

Before the pupil is able to sit the Guernsey Bar exams, the Pupil Master will need to report in writing to the Bailiff that the pupil has discharged him/herself with due diligence during the pre-examination period and has achieved a standard which will enable the pupil to sit his/her papers with a reasonable expectation of passing them.

 

3. Guernsey Bar Exams

The Guernsey Bar exams currently comprise of four papers, two of which are compulsory: the Bailiff's paper (Constitutional Law) and Ethics. Candidates then choose two further papers from the following options: Civil Practice and Procedure, Corporate and Financial Services Law, Criminal Practice and Procedure, Family law and Property law.

Exams are held annually during the first two weeks of May.  The average length of study is three months full time but this varies.

The Guernsey Bar Exams are currently under reivew.

 

4. Academic qualification in French and Norman law

In order to become a Guernsey Advocate it is also necessary to hold an academic qualification in French and Norman law. This requirement is usually met by studying for the Certificat d’EtudesJuridiques Françaises et Normandes from Caen University, although there is currently a working party who have been tasked with looking at, and revising, this method of study.

The course currently provides students with a historical background on the laws and institutions of Normandy from which Guernsey's laws and institutions have evolved.  Study is broken down into three areas: Obligations (contract law), Coutume (Norman Customary Law) and Institutions (the historical legal institutions of Normandy). 

The course is taught in French and runs from September to December each year with a 30 minute oral exam [in each subject] at the end of the course.  Students normally undertake French lessons in advance of this course and there are no pre-requisites with regard to holding any French qualifications.

If you already hold a French legal qualification you may be exempt from this requirement.

 

5. Call to the Bar

Once you have completed all of the above stages you will apply to the Royal Court to join the Guernsey Bar.  Once your application is approved, you will be called to the Royal Court to swear an oath before the Court that you will uphold the responsibilities, loyalties and obligations of the Guernsey Bar.  After this swearing in ceremony you may then hold yourself out as a Guernsey Advocate.

Once called, you may appear in the Magistrates Court by yourself and do all the work that an Advocate does.  If, however, you are to appear before any division of the Royal Court during the three months following call to the Guernsey Bar, you must be accompanied by your Pupil Master or another Advocate of at least one year's standing. 

 

NB: Satisfy residency requirements

Prior to being called to the Guernsey Bar you must have been ordinarily resident in the Bailiwick of Guernsey for at least two years after the age of 16, or for one year if you have local residential qualifications.

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