From 1 January 2017, a newly reformed CPD will be implemented for the established Practitioner Programme (EPP) barristers to follow. The CPD is a scheme for the barristers to complete which includes: advocacy, ethics, case preparation and professional conduct. The flaws of the current CPD were pointed out by the Bar Standards Board, (BSB), whom believed CPD does not provide adequate assessments on whether the barrister has achieved their specific outcomes. The BSB stated the CPD was ‘unnecessarily prescriptive’ and did not see the significance of the completion of the current CPD, on top of this the BSB are also scrapping the amount of hours required to complete the CPD. Therefore, changes have been enforced to the new scheme, where a much more flexible approach is applied for the barrister to plan his/her training. The new changes include:
• Completion of CPD that is specific to the area of their practice.
• Sufficient guidance to help barristers to structure their CPD.
• Barristers are given independence over their planning and practicing the CPD.
• Barristers are required to note their progress when carrying out the CPD tasks.
• Barristers are to note down their progress whilst completing the scheme, and reflect on what they have learnt and the relevance it has on their learning.
• Supervising barristers who do not fulfill with their CPD.
• There are no set minimum hours to complete in the CPD training.
• The CPD will not enforce disciplinary action, but ensure the barrister comply with CPD requirements.
As a result, the new CPD scheme is providing a greater autonomy amongst barristers in structuring their own studies, in addition to the new scheme delivering that positive support and feedback on the development of the barrister. BSB plans to focus solely on the learning outcomes, rather than quantifying the work produced from CPD. Barristers have been coming together in workshops in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester to prepare for the new CPD procedure.
However, there have been concerns with new preparations and many experts had highlighted the ambiguity with the changes, in particular the point on the barrister’s professional reflection. As a result, lay board member Keith Baldwin criticised the new plan as becoming a ‘paper exercise’ and firmly believes that barristers should be tested on a variety of tasks and to comply to them properly. Despite Mr Baldwin’s negative comments, many experts predict the long term benefits of the scheme. Director-General of the BSB, Dr Vanessa Davies, pointed out the benefits of the new CPD, as she believes the barrister would not only develop a set of practical skills but a professional relationship with the clerks. The new CPD design looks promising, as the scheme has been facilitated to meet the academic needs of the barrister by placing more responsibility and flexibility onto their approach to the scheme. Thus it is hoped that the new system is effective at maximizing value for money and times, as barristers are able to undergo the CPD relevant to their practice.
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