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.”