At times, CPD has been subject to scrutiny and some criticism from members of the Bar. On occasion, systems for its monitoring and approval have been described as ‘overly bureaucratic’. That said, the vast majority of CPD provision is clearly of high quality as lectures, seminars and courses are increasingly being made available to members of the profession by a range of providers (varying from Inns,
Circuits and SBAs to commercial providers). There is, however, a need to ensure that both the developmental activities and the systems for their approval are effective, bearing in mind of course that it is always possible to learn from experience and that there is always room for improvement. As such, a major review of CPD is being conducted to consider all aspects of CPD.

In order to consider whether the current content and structure of CPD is most appropriate, the Group will firstly take into account the work that has already been done on this subject. Lord Neuberger, in his report, made recommendations regarding CPD, including mandatory Equality & Diversity Training. Likewise, the recent Hirst Review considered the coordination of post-qualification training at the Bar and found some substantial differences between commercial providers and Inns, Circuits and Specialist Bar Associations. Other recommendations from various groups and committees have included the possible increase of compulsory Advocacy training (for 4-6 years call) and possible compulsory training in other specific areas, such as costs.

The Working Group will therefore consider and make recommendations on a wide range of key issues that have been identified. The overarching theme is that of quality. It is also vital to consider the current structure and content of CPD and indeed whether CPD itself achieves its purpose. Linked to this, of course, is the issue of the recent fee structure for CPD accreditation and fee waivers system, which have been in place since 2008.


In determining the standards for training and the standards for accredited CPD providers, the Working Group will carefully consider the mechanisms for approval of CPD providers and courses. In fact, the group will firstly consider whether CPD itself operates effectively in its current form and whether the accreditation processes are necessary. AllCPD documentation, including the application forms for
accreditation and the ‘General Guide to CPD’, which refers to the rules that govern CPD, will be reviewed. The Working Group will also consider Annex C of the Code of Conduct, which deals with the current system for compliance, including the return of the CPD record and the requisite number of hours.


A high profile Working Group has again been convened (as for the previous two reviews) in order to address all these major issues. Care was taken to ensure that all key interests are represented, whilst keeping the group small enough to ensure an effective way of working. Membership therefore includes silks (some with judiciary experience), members of the Bar Standards Board itself, the BSB Education & TrainingCommittee and CPD Sub Committee, and a member of the Employed Bar. A lay perspective is provided by members of other professions (accountancy and medical). Full details of the membership and terms of reference are available on the BSB website.

As with the Review of the BVC and Pupillage, the Working Group will avoid the production of lengthy consultation documents but rather carry out extensive face-to-face meetings and discussions with the Inns, COIC, Circuits, Specialist Bar Associations, BSB and Bar Council Committees, chambers, barristers and commercial CPD providers. This evidence based approach will be used as the foundation for discussion, with pertinent statistical information. Further information will be provided as the review progresses, which is expected to report to the December 2010 meeting of the Bar Standards Board.

Education and Training for the Bar at all levels is crucial for the maintenance of quality and standards in the profession - hence the importance of a review of CPD to follow on from the review of the BVC and the review of Pupillage. Comments on the scope of the review, or views about CPD in general may be sent to: Elizabeth Prats, Continuing Education Officer, Bar Standards Board