Bar Examination Policy
- To undertake the Bar Practice Course conducted by the New South Wales Bar Association (Bar Association) a lawyer must first sit the NSW Bar Examination (NSW Bar Exam) and obtain a mark of at least 75%.
2. Illness/Misadventure Provisions
- A candidate undertaking the NSW Bar Exam who believes that short term circumstances beyond their control – such as an illness or other misadventure – has significantly affected, or will significantly affect, their performance in the NSW Bar Exam may apply for special consideration. A candidate wishing to apply for special consideration must supply the following documentation:
A detailed written application that clearly outlines the reasons for applying for special consideration (including details of the illness, hardship or misadventure endured), how those circumstances have directly impacted the candidate’s preparation for the NSW Bar Exam and how it is anticipated they would directly impact the candidate or have directly impacted the candidate in sitting the NSW Bar Exam on exam day.
- Each application must be accompanied by supporting documentation including, where appropriate a medical certificate or doctor's note.
- Candidates must apply for special consideration as soon as the relevant circumstances arise and, where possible, before the start of the NSW Bar Exam. If a candidate’s circumstances prevent them from applying for special consideration before they sit the NSW Bar Exam their application should be provided within 48 hours of sitting the NSW Bar Exam and should also describe why it was not possible for them to have made the application prior to sitting the NSW Bar Exam.
- Disability Provisions
- The Bar Association is bound by Commonwealth and State legislation and legislative instruments relating to disability and discrimination including, most relevant to this policy, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth).
- Reasonable adjustments to the sitting conditions will be made to ensure that a candidate is not prevented by any disability from sitting the NSW Bar Exam and that a candidate’s ability to demonstrate that they possess the requisite knowledge is not adversely affected by any disability. .
- Some matters relating to accessibility and assistance with sitting the NSW Bar Exam can be dealt with without the need for an application for provisions. The Bar Association publishes information on its website about accessibility and assistance with the Bar Examinations, which includes the circumstances in which an application for provisions is required.
- A candidate proposing to undertake the NSW Bar Exam who wishes to apply for reasonable adjustments to be made to the sitting conditions under these provisions must supply the following documentation to the Director, Professional Development:
- A detailed written application that clearly identifies the adjustments to the sitting conditions that the candidate is requesting, describes the way in which their disability is anticipated to impact on their performance in the NSW Bar Exam and explains how the reasonable adjustments sought will ameliorate that impact;
- Evidence of the disability in the form of a medical report with the appropriate diagnosis;
- An opinion from a medical professional which clearly states why the candidate needs the reasonable adjustment(s) sought;
- Consent from the candidate for the medical professional to provide further information to the Director of Professional Development for the purpose of the application being assessed and determined.
(1) The Bar Association has approved a form for applications for provision(s) in the NSW Bar Examination based on disability, which may be accessed on our website here.
(2) Subparagraphs (ii) and (iii) above may be satisfied by the same report from a medical professional;
(3) Candidates and medical professionals must demonstrate awareness of the format of the examination, and should have express regard to that format in the information they provide; and
(4) The Director of Professional Development may require additional information from the candidate or the medical professional.
- Applications will be assessed by the Bar Association’s Accessibility Panel. The Disability Panel will make a recommendation to the Director, Professional Development in respect of each application. A determination will then be made in respect of each application by the Director, Professional Development in consultation with the Chair, Examination Working Party, together acting in this regard on behalf of the Bar Council.
- Applications will be provided to the Accessibility Panel in anonymised form.
- In making a determination, the Director, Professional Development and the Chair, Examination Working Party, will have regard to the recommendation made by the Accessibility Panel, the information provided by the candidate, any additional information provided by the medical professional or the candidate, as well as the requirements of the examination and the need to ensure fairness for all candidates.
- In the event:
- a candidate fails by not more than 5 marks to attain the pass mark of 75%;
- an application for illness/misadventure or reasonable adjustments has been made under paragraph 2 or 3; or
- other circumstances exist before examination results are finalised which in the opinion of the Director, Professional Development in consultation with the Chair, Examination Working Party, together acting in this regard on behalf of the Bar Council, make it appropriate for a candidate’s paper to be reviewed;
the paper will be reviewed by a moderator. The moderator may award a pass or fail to the candidate for the paper.
- If according to the moderator the candidate still fails, the Director, Professional Development in consultation with the Chair, Examination Working Party, together acting in this regard on behalf of the Bar Council may, in their absolute discretion, allow the candidate to undertake a further written or oral examination, and in exercising that discretion, may have regard to any other matters which appear to them to be relevant.
- Where a candidate fails the NSW Bar Exam, the candidate may sit for that examination when it is next conducted.
- Notwithstanding paragraph 6, in order to be permitted to participate in the Bar Practice Course, a candidate must have obtained a mark of not less than 75% in the NSW Bar Exam within a period of 15 months prior to the commencement of the course in question.