Practising Certificate Fee (PCF) versus Bar Representation Fee (BRF)

8 February 2018

In advance of this year's Authorisation to Practise process, I wanted to clarify where your money is being spent. 

Income from the Practising Certificate Fee (PCF) is restricted in what it can be spent on, as stipulated by the Legal Services Act. At present, the independent Bar Standards Board (BSB) takes two-thirds of the PCF funds to regulate the Bar. The Bar Council (the separate body that represents barristers) receives only a third of the funds, and supplements its income from other Bar Council activities, such as the provision of training and events, the Bar Directory, commercial partnerships, and, of course, the Bar Representation Fee (BRF). 

Many of you know the BRF as a fee which pays for Counsel magazine (which you get for free if you subscribe), offers retail and other discounts through Xexec, and gives those barristers doing direct/public access the right to list on the Direct Access Portal, the public-facing directory for the direct access Bar. But the BRF gives the Bar far more than this. 

Through the essential funding we obtain from your BRF subscriptions, the Bar Council Policy team, whose focus is to represent and support the Bar (not regulate it) is able to conduct work which includes:  

  • Lobbying the Government on matters including protecting the rule of law, court reform, legal aid and access to justice; 

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) support for the Bar; 

  • Responding to consultations on behalf of the Bar, to protect our strengths and interests; and 

  • Engaging the Bar on international developments, enabling them to develop international practices and influence the rule of law abroad. 

If you want to support the Bar Council's work in these areas and in other essential matters for the profession, please pay the BRF. From March 2018, you will be able to choose to pay £100 per year (including VAT, which is recoverable) or select a higher amount, should you be able and wish to support our work with additional funds. 

By paying the BRF you also receive the following benefits: 

  • Monthly subscription to Counsel magazine (otherwise £100 a year); 

  • Listing on the Direct Access Portal (DAP) if you accept direct access instructions; 

  • Unlimited copies of Certificates of Good Standing (otherwise £100 per certificate); 

  • Member benefits through the discount provider Xexec; 

  • Discounts for you and your staff on training and events offered by the Bar Council. 

Contact the Bar Council Member Services team MemberServices@BarCouncil.org.uk to set up a direct debit payment or click here /supporting-the-bar/bar-representation-fee-and-funding/ to get more details of the services to which your BRF payment provides access. 

Isabel Divanna

Commercial Director at The Bar Council