Criminal Record Checks
As of 2021, the Bar Standards Board requires that all those applying for Call to the Bar undergo a Standard UK Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check.
Additionally, those who have resided in a country/countries outside of the UK for 12 months or more, at any point during the 5 years preceding their application for Call, will need to undergo the equivalent international criminal record check/s.
The DBS check will form part of the Fit and Proper Person checks required prior to Call to the Bar; further information regarding these checks can be found on the BSB website.
Collectively, the Inns of Court have engaged an experienced external company, Due Diligence Checking Ltd (DDC), to administer the process of obtaining the necessary checks. We are confident that this will ensure the process is as straightforward as possible for you.
The Inn will submit your name and contact details to DDC, once the deadline for Call has passed.
A summary of the process plus further details is below. Please complete the process ASAP as you cannot be Called if your checks are not complete by 2 weeks before the Call ceremony.
- DDC will contact you and request further information including your address history
- You will be required to send a number of ID documents to DDC, who will then conduct a video call with you to verify your identity. These documents (which usually include one or more of the following: passport, drivers licence, national identity card) must be sent in original hard copy – this is a requirement of the DBS (a government body) and cannot be altered
- Once the ID check is complete, your DBS check (UK) will be obtained. This certificate will be posted to you by the DBS - you do not need to send it to the Inn unless it contains any content
- DDC will also notify you if you require any international checks and any additional information/action required for these. There is an additional cost for these, see below
The Inns will cover the cost of the administration fee and will only pass on the actual cost of the checks themselves to you.
For the Standard DBS check the cost is £23.00
The cost for international checks varies country by country – an estimate of those costs can be found here.
Additional costs for the following may also be applicable:
- the cost for the relevant international check/s
- the cost for translation, if the criminal record report is produced in a language other than English
- the cost for identification verification via a video call
- the postage or courier costs associated with sending identification documentation, where applicable
Validity of Check
Once issued the DBS certificate is only valid for 1 year. Therefore, you can apply for all Call ceremonies within this time period.
The Inn’s have arranged for DDC to carry out onsite identifications at locations across England and Wales. However, due to COVID and government guidelines, these in person checks are postponed. DDC will be verifying identification documents with you via video call. Following the video call, you are required to post documents to DDC but the Inn’s have agreed to cover the cost of the postage. However, if you are applying outside of the UK, you will have to pay for your documents to be sent to DDC via a courier. All documents will be returned to you.
When you have submitted your online application, made payment and the identification checks have been completed, DDC will acquire the Standard UK DBS check, and, if required, the necessary international criminal records checks for you.
The checks will be returned to the applicant and Inn as follows:
- Standard UK DBS check – within 3 working days
- International checks – within 12 working days for the majority of checks. Processing times will vary country to country. For further guidance on the processing time for a specific country, please contact DDC.
To facilitate these checks, and to ensure they are carried out in good time for applicants to be called to the Bar, it is necessary for the Inn to transfer some of your data to Due Diligence Checking Ltd (DDC). When you became a member, you read the Inn's Data Privacy Notice and consented to the processing of your personal data. However, the Inn’s have created a supplement privacy notice statement regarding DBS checks.
Additionally, it may be necessary for DDC to undertake a search with an external organisation for the purposes of verifying your identity. To do so, the organisation (Experian Limited) may check the name, address and date of birth you supply against any particulars on any database (public or otherwise) to which they have access. A record of the search will be retained but will not be visible to other parties or affect your credit rating. You will be required to provide written consent for this search to be undertaken ahead of the process of obtaining criminal record checks commencing.
The Inn’s have also created a Policy Statement which sets out our commitment to the fair and appropriate use of criminal record data in its role as an organisation assessing applicants’ suitability for Call to the Bar.
DDC have been tasked with delivering applicant identification (ID) checks, obtaining DBS standard checks and, if necessary, obtaining the equivalent overseas checks. After reading the above, if you have queries regarding what the process will entail for you, please contact DDC here and not the Inn.
Waiver for criminal record checks for those applying for Call in 2021
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the BSB has introduced a very limited waiver in relation to obtaining criminal records checks for Call. You can download the full policy and application form here. Once completed Email your completed form to Vicky Hanson.