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HMRC internal manual

Business Income Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Barristers: general provisions

Basis of computation of trading profits of barristers and advocates

Commencement of practice

A barrister is defined as a person who is qualified, or who has a right, to plead at the Bar in a Court of Law. A newly qualified barrister, unless exempted by his Inn of Court, must complete a year’s practical training (the pupillage period) during the first six months of which he cannot accept instructions or conduct any part of a case himself. The profession of barrister, therefore, cannot in any event commence before the end of the first six months pupillage. While the question of when the profession commences thereafter is one of fact, the most likely date of commencement is that on which the barrister is in a position to accept briefs and has instructed the clerk to obtain such briefs.

You should assess any fees received prior to the commencement of the practice (for example fees from the writing of articles, etc) as miscellaneous income (under Part 5 Chap 8 Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005 (ITTOIA 2005)).

Cash basis for computing profits - special rules for barristers starting in practice

Barristers were permitted to use the cash basis (also known as the alternative basis) under S160 ITTOIA 2005 in the seven years following their first holding themselves out for work (see BIM51120). S160 ITTOIA 2005 was repealed by Finance Act 2013. Only barristers who were using the alternative basis for the tax year 2012/13 can continue to do so.

Barristers may elect to use the new cash basis from April 2013 if they meet the eligibility criteria (see BIM70010 and BIM70060 onwards).