Oliver Hanmer is director of supervision at the Bar Standards Board. He says in The Times that the BSB, the regulator, wants them to think carefully about learning and professional development needs. It wants to give them flexibility to undertake the right CPD for them; it is recognised that one size does not fit all, and that even the number of hours of CPD that barristers must undertake will vary.
The reasons for this are clear: all barristers are different and some will require more CPD than others. Therefore, the emphasis of the BSB’s updated scheme is to provide more flexibility.
It will mean that established barristers will be free to plan their own CPD activities, will have greater flexibility in the types of CPD activities they undertake, will not be subject to any compulsory or accredited activities, will not be subject to a minimum number of hours and will no longer need to apply for an extension of time or a waiver from CPD requirements.
It is expected that this change and the increased freedom it gives barristers will encourage innovation and competition among course providers of CPD, although that was not the primary object of the reforms.
Also, and importantly, barristers’ CPD will continue to be supervised. While the new regime will provide greater flexibility regarding the type and amount of CPD activities, it does not mean that barristers can completely avoid CPD.
Far from it; the BSB will continue to supervise barristers’ CPD, and persistent and deliberate non-compliance will result in enforcement action.
To help barristers prepare for the arrangements, the regulator is planning a series of events around the country later in the year. Details of these events will be published soon.