The bar’s regulator has followed its solicitor counterpart by unveiling plans to scrap the mandatory requirement for practitioners to complete mandatory periods of continuing professional development.
In a consultation opened yesterday, the Bar Standards Board proposes replacing the CPD scheme for barristers who have practised for more than three years, ending the requirement to complete 12 hours training per year. The proposals will not affect those with less than three years’ experience.
The BSB said the current scheme has a ‘tendency to operate as a tick-box exercise’, with barristers taking courses just to satisfy the required number of hours.
Instead the regulator plans to move towards an outcomes-focused approach, and will expect barristers to manage their own training according to their own needs. Under the new scheme barristers will have to maintain an up-to-date annual record of their CPD activities
Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, director of training and education at the BSB said: '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.’
The new scheme will be piloted this year, and if approved the proposals would come into force in 2017.
The BSB is consulting members and the public on these proposals, and will be accepting feedback until 2 September.