The Bar has always been an internationally oriented profession.
As the 'common law' originated in England and Wales, barristers
have long been able to appear in the courts of other Commonwealth
jurisdictions. Today, with the increasing globalisation of legal
services and the diversification of practice brought about by
regulatory change, barristers practice internationally in numerous
other ways, such as in international commercial arbitrations or
international human rights tribunals. The number of barristers with
international practices is growing all the time, and within every
specialist area there are opportunities to develop an international
The International Committee of the Bar Council has produced an
International Practice Information Pack for members of the Bar who
are practising or intending to practise internationally. To view
the pack, please click here.
Please see below for information on the international practice
rules and support the Bar Council can offer you in developing your
International practice rules
The Bar Standard Board's 2014 Handbook (in force as of 6 January 2014) governs certain categories of international legal services provision. The rules have changed both in substance and layout. One such new rule is that barristers recieving instructions directly from foreign lay clients must complete public access training.
While in general terms international practice can be understood to mean delivering legal services cross-border in any mode, the Bar Standard Board's 2014 Handbook applies only to certain international legal services delivered by barristers as outlined by the concepts of "foreign work", "foreign client" and "foreign lawyer" within the Handbook.
The Bar Standard Board's Handbook does not permit barristers to hold themselves out as a practising barrister and a foreign lawyer simultaneously. Even barristers who are members of another legal profession may only accept instructions as a barrister for as long as they hold a practising certificate.
A barrister undertaking foreign work is also required, as a matter of professional conduct, to comply with the applicable rules of the foreign place in question, subject to the overriding Core Duties described within the Handbook.
When practising abroad, barristers must also observe any restrictions on foreign lawyers' practice contained in local law and in the rules of foreign legal professional regulators. If you wish to find out how to obtain rights of audience or what your practice rights as a barrister are in overseas jurisdictions it is generally best to contact first the local Bar association. You will find a useful list of bar association contact details here.
Support for barristers
Support from the Bar Council
The Bar Council's International Committee and staff team assist the Bar in further raising its international profile and provide events and opportunities for members of the Bar to develop their international practice.
The Bar Council works with government and other bodies to improve the access of barristers to foreign legal markets. Should you encounter any difficulties in representing your clients abroad, it is worth contacting the Head of International Policy as we may be able to assist.
Foreign legal qualifications
Foreign legal qualifications and foreign languages are often useful for developing an international practice. We recommend that barristers interested in qualification or rights of audience in another jurisdiction contact the relevant international Bar association. A list is available on the IBA website.