Bar Council warns on potential “cost to quality” from CPD move

Nick Lavender

Lavender: BSB must police quality of courses

The Bar Council has warned of a potential “cost to quality”, following an announcement from the Bar Standards Board (BSB) that from next month it will only accredit CPD providers, and not individual courses.

Nicholas Lavender QC, chairman of the Bar Council, welcomed “any moves towards a less heavy-handed form of regulation” but said quality was “an inevitable concern for any form of self-accreditation”.

Mr Lavender went on: “The BSB refers to this new approach as being more efficient. What that efficiency actually looks like and who will be the main beneficiaries of it is not yet clear.

“The Bar Council hopes that the BSB will police the level of quality of courses which CPD providers offer on an ongoing basis so that our members can be confident that they are receiving professional development of the highest standard.”

From 1 January 2015, CPD providers must apply to the BSB for accreditation as an organisation, rather than for individual events or courses. They will be expected to self-accredit courses according to guidelines.

Simon Thornton-Wood, director of education and training at the BSB, said: “We are amending the CPD accreditation system to make it less bureaucratic as well as more efficient and effective.

“Providers will benefit from a streamlined and less onerous process and barristers should gain access to a richer range of courses, as a result. For us, this is all part of moving further towards a regulatory regime that is better targeted and more proportionate.”

A spokesman for the BSB described the change as “a significant shift from the current set-up in which the BSB accredits some 8,000 events and courses a year.”

He added: “Members of the Bar will not be directly affected by these changes other than potentially benefitting from being able to choose from a broader range of CPD activities.”


    Readers Comments

  • Jack says:

    I realise that Mr Lavender was specifically commenting on changes to CPD but I cannot see how he can possibly think the BSB can possibly move towards a ‘less heavy handed form of regulation’. If the Chair of the Bar Council thinks the BSB is heavy handed I have to question his understanding of regulation. I am not sure that the BSB could possibly be any more light touch in their approach to regulation.

    I qualified as a barrister but chose to transfer to the solicitors profession and I was immediately struck by the difference between the way the Bar is regulated and the approach the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) takes to regulation. At first I thought that the SRA was heavy handed but I soon came to realise that they were not and in fact I had simply been very poorly regulated as a barrister. I don’t particularly like the SRA but I know who they are and what it is that they do while, in common with most barristers, I used to view the BSB as a part of the Bar Council and assumed they represented my interests. I recently met with friends who are still at the Bar and was relating my fairly typical experience with the SRA as a new solicitor only for one of them to say that ‘the Bar Council (meaning the BSB) would never get away with behaving like that.’ I think he is probably right as when I was a member of the Bar I considered the BSB to be little more than an irritation and had a somewhat lackadaisical approach to compliance while as a solicitor despite doing nothing wrong I am always mindful of the need to be able to prove I am compliant with the SRA rules. The BSB give the Bar an easy ride by comparison to the SRA and are certainly not the ‘heavy handed’ regulator suggested by Mr Lavender.

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