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Help for barristers

Barristers inherently face very specific challenges on a daily basis. If you need some help click on support to find contact details and advice on seeking support.

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Help for clerks and staff

The professional lives of clerks and chambers’ staff include many potential stressors. If you don’t know how to broach an issue, want advice on your options.

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Help for students and pupils

These resources have been designed specifically for those who have completed their BPTC and for pupils up to tenancy.

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Our vision

Find out what Wellbeing at the Bar aims to achieve.

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Policy & practice

Guidance on how to introduce wellbeing policies and initiatives and on tackling a wellbeing issue in chambers.

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Media pack

Logos and banners to help you to promote wellbeing.

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Case studies

Examples of successful wellbeing initiatives adopted by chambers, Specialist Bar Associations and the Inns of Court.

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Support for barristers

Who to talk to, how to get help in coping with the pressures and demands of life at the Bar.

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Support for clerks and staff

Who to talk to and how to get help, resources are for clerks and staff themselves.

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Support for students and pupils

Who to talk to and how to get help for those who have completed their BPTC and for pupils up to tenancy.

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Assistance programme

The confidential 24/7 helpline with access to counselling for barristers, pupils, clerks and chambers’ staff.

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Financial stress

HMRC said "tax needn't be taxing" but it can be very taxing indeed! If you find yourself behind with your paperwork or payments it can be tempting to put the problem to one side until you can deal with it, and then the problem can escalate and with it the stress of the situation.

So, an action plan is needed. Firstly - breathe, you have taken the first step to address the problem. It may take many steps to resolve, but one at a time makes it much more manageable.The advice below can either be actioned by yourself, a trusted friend, your accountant or ask Chambers to help you. Remember, this may feel embarrassing or overwhelming, but there will be someone to help you.

For confidential help, call

On calling, you will be asked to identify whether you are a self-employed Barrister, or a member of the IBC* or LPMA*

0800 169 2040

*See member area of IBC/LPMA websites for member access code.

Behind with filing VAT returns

  • List which Returns are outstanding; which your HMRC account will show you.
  • Use your Chambers’ VAT reports to draft your Returns. If you already have your expenses listed or are in a position to do so, then do enter those too, but filing a Return with some missing expenses is better than not filing a Return.
  • Check to see your new balance on your account and pay it. If this will prove difficult, see the “Behind with paying HMRC” section below.
  • Set a reminder for future returns. You can ask your Chambers to email you your VAT report each quarter and they may even help you file your Returns.

Behind with filing self assessment tax returns

  • For each Return, collate the information you need for your bar accounts. In basic terms – income (including opening and closing debtors), chambers costs and other expenses; either pass this information to your accountant or use it to draft your accounts.
  • Also list, estimate if necessary, your other income / expenses for your Return. Look at your last filed Return to give you reminders of what has been previously included, such as bank interest received, investment income, property income, child benefit, gift aid payments and pension income or contributions.
  • This may seem daunting, but again remember that you can work on one figure at a time and/or your accountant can do a lot of the work for you.
  • Remember, it is allowed to enter estimates or provisional figures on the Return, HMRC would rather get some information than none.

Behind with paying HMRC

  • This may seem to be the most daunting point, but HMRC can be understanding. They may offer you a payment plan and once you are in discussion with them, they can be asked to wait whilst financing is put in place.
  • Whilst your advisor can call HMRC on your behalf, HMRC will need to speak to you personally at some point, as only you can make promises of payment. However this can be done in a meeting, over the phone or even by email and your advisor can be with you.

Hints and tips

  • Don’t ignore letters from HMRC, at least pass them to someone else to deal with them.
  • Don’t ignore HMRC determinations, they can be very scary as HMRC tend to estimate high, but if you don’t challenge them, they can be enforced.
  • Don’t let yourself feel swamped by the big picture; tackle one small element at a time.
  • Talk to someone (preferably an accountant, but anybody who can help you get on track).

The big picture

  • However behind you are, you can catch up.
  • Even if you fear you may face bankruptcy when you finalise your position, still do so, there are many options in place. The Bar Council will not strike you off just because you are made bankrupt and most Chambers are very sympathetic and would not ask you to leave.

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The advice above is from Place Campbell, who very much recommend you speak to an accountant if you have concerns regarding Tax, HMRC or similar issues. An accountant has seen all manner of records, schedules and positions and will be able to help. You need not be alone.

The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.

Get in touch Policy & practice

It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’

2 in 3 barristers feel that showing signs of stress equals weakness