23 September 2019

Barristers best placed to chart their own CPD course, says Bar regulator

3 June 2015

Members of the Bar should be encouraged to take ownership of their own professional learning and development, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has said. The proposals are part of the BSB's Future Bar Training programme, which sets out the regulator's vision for reforming legal education and training for the next generation of barristers.    

In a consultation paper launched today, the BSB proposes replacing the current Established Practitioners Programme (EPP) - the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme for barristers who have practised for more than three years - and ending the set number of hours that practitioners must complete annually.    

The consultation paper outlines plans to replace the EPP with a new scheme that gives barristers the freedom to chart their own learning and development and decide on the type, scope, and volume of CPD they should do as it relates to their areas of practice. At the moment, members of the Bar on the EPP must complete 12 hours of CPD every year; of these, the BSB should accredit four.

Individuals would continue to be responsible for complying with the new regime. This would allow the regulator to avoid unnecessarily escalating minor failures to comply with CPD requirements and focus more on those barristers it believes represent a real risk to the public by not keeping their training up-to-date.

Director of Education and Training for the BSB, Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, said: "We think barristers are best placed to map out and embark on the training most useful to their own career path. CPD should be about barristers enriching their perspectives, challenging and colliding ideas, and acquiring knowledge that will help them provide their clients with the best service possible. It shouldn't be a last minute scramble to attend the next available course - whatever it is - just to clock up a chosen number of hours."

"What we're suggesting in this paper is more autonomy for barristers to identify, pursue, and fulfil their training needs. But it also means more flexibility for us to focus our efforts where they are really needed. Persistent or flagrant breaches will of course be taken very seriously, but we want to move away from using a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut' and inappropriately referring minor CPD offences to enforcement action. Those are our views. Now we want to hear from others on whether they think we've got it right."

Under the system proposed, barristers will still have to maintain a continuous, up-to-date, and annual record of their CPD activities and demonstrate that these are relevant to current or future practice. They should be able to explain how their CPD has contributed to their practice, in terms of its quality or development, and will maintain their own CPD records via an online system. 

The proposals as they are currently presented only refer to the EPP and not the New Practitioner Programme (NPP) - for barristers with less than three years of practising experience.

The BSB believes that a structured and rigorous approach to the NPP is the most effective way of ensuring that barristers attain necessary standards needed at the start of their career.  

The consultation closes on 2 September 2015. You can read the proposals in full on our website

Responses should be sent to futurebartraining@barstandardsboard.org.uk.  



Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk .