Bermuda is a common law jurisdiction. In order to practice law and be eligible for admission to the Bermuda Bar, Barristers & Attorneys are required to hold a Commonwealth Law Degree and be able to practice in Her Majesty's dominion.
Applications for admission to the Bermuda Bar are set out in the Supreme Court Act 1905 (Sections 51(2) & 52 apply). For Special Admission applications, section 53 of the same Act shall apply. To view, simply click: Here
The Memorandum on the Qualifications and Procedure for Admission is outlined in the following link which includes Circular #9 of 2006 dated 25 May 2006. To view, simply click: Here
In accordance with recent amendments in early 2019 made to the Bermuda Bar Act 1974 and Rules associated thereto, applications for admission to the Bermuda Bar must include a Fit & Proper Certificate which will be issued by the Bermuda Bar Council. The purpose of the Fit & Proper Certificate is to determine that fit and proper standards are met by the applicant. Please follow the steps as outlined under the Association Membership Tab and allow up to 10 days for the background check to be completed. The "Original" FPP Certificate along with other required supporting documentation is to be included as evidence when filing paperwork with the Courts. The cost for the Fit & Proper Person application is $100 which is payable at the time of submitting the application form to the Bar Office, or, after the applicant has been admitted to the Bermuda Bar and Bermuda Bar Association membership activation is underway. Please enquire with the Bar Office if the later is preferred, particularly in the case of Pupil admissions.
All applications for admission are to be submitted to the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Bermuda and copied to the Bermuda Bar Association for review by Bar Council not less than (5) clear days prior to admission. Grounds for objection by Bar Council to be submitted to the Registrar and the Chief Justice no less than (2) clear days prior to admission setting out the grounds for objection.
- Note that original documents are to be seen by the Registrar.
- Check list of documents to be submitted attached
- Sample admission papers are available to eligible applicants upon request from the Bar Office.
Immigration Work Permit requirement
To practice law in Bermuda, non-Bermudians must be employed by a Bermuda law firm, or professional company. Prior to commencement of employment the prospective employer must make an application to the Department of Immigration for a work permit allowing employment in the capacity as a Barrister & Attorney as outlined in the Mermorandum of Qualifications and Proceedure for Admission - Circular #9 of 2006.
The duty of the Department of Immigration is to protect and promote the employment prospects of Bermudians. Accordingly, as a matter of policy, a prospective employer is obliged to advertise an employment opportunity for at least three days in a local newspaper and if there are no suitably qualified Bermudian or spouse of a Bermudian applicants, then the Department of Immigration will consider the grant of a work permit, having sought a view from Bar Council in accordance with Section 61(1) of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 which has "effect in connection with the application of any person to the Minister" for permission to engage in gainful employment.
Section 61(4) states further that "the Minister shall, in respect of any such application, . . . in the case of an application for permission to practice any profession in respect of which there is established any statutory body for regulating the matters dealt with by that profession, consult with that body.")
Bar Council is not in a position to pre-consider, pre-approve, or determine if a work permit application, or a spouse of a Bermudian application qualifies for admission to the Bermuda Bar.
Member firms/companies should be guided by the requirements and qualification for admission under Sec 51 & 52 of the Supreme Court Act 1905. This would include work permit holders who are applying to become a Registered Associate for 12 months followed by an admission application, and/or a spouse of a Bermudian who has qualified in another jurisdiction.
Bar Council are only able to consider the qualifications of a potential employee of a firm/company is if there is a Work Permit application submitted to the Minister of Immigration, copied to Bar Council. If Bar Council is of the view that the applicant does not meet the qualifications which would eventually allow for admission to the Bermuda bar, the view will be shared with the Minister and the firm/company applicant at that time. In the case of a spousal application for admission, the same qualification requirements for admission apply although the 12 month residency requirement is not required.
Admission changes underway UK Autumn 2021 with Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introducing the Solicitors Qulaifying Examinations (SQE)
Additionall, please note that Bar Council received notice from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in the UK stating that changes are underway to their requirements for admission as a solicitor of England and Wales which may affect our jurisdiction as the same requirements and standards are set for admission in our common law jurisdiction. In short, the SRA are introducing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) which will replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC), Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Test (QLTS). These changes will not happen until Autumn 2021, however amendments may need to be made to Bermuda’s admission requirements as set out in Sections 51 and 52 of the Supreme Court Act 1905 to accommodate.