26 September 2017

Continuing Professional Development FAQs

The new CPD rules for established practitioners

 

1. What are the deadlines for completion? Does my CPD plan have to be produced by 1 January in a given year?

2. I am based and practise overseas and/or hold dual practice status. To what extent do the CPD rules apply to me?

3. I am on the New Practitioner Programme (NPP) CPD scheme. What are my CPD requirements?

4. For barristers on the NPP scheme, will the list of permitted and non-permitted activities that are set out in the 2016 CPD Guide remain the same?

5. Has the BSB produced a template that I can use to complete my CPD Plan, my record of activity and my reflection?

6. My organisation uses an internal system to record CPD planning, activities and reflection. Can I continue to use this system in order to comply with the CPD requirements?

7. Is there an obligation on chambers to manage and administer the CPD compliance of members?  For example, to retain any records on behalf of their barristers?

8. Is there any obligation on BSB entities to manage and administer the CPD of any of their practising barristers, for example to retain any CPD records on behalf of barristers?

9. The CPD guidance sets out five general areas for training and development that I should consider when setting my learning objectives:

Is it a requirement that all of these areas must have learning objectives associated with them every year?

10. Is it acceptable for me not to include advocacy or practice management within my CPD plan, if I am in employed practice and not carrying out advocacy or if I am not responsible for managing a practice?

11. How many learning objectives would you expect me to identify in any one year?

12. Can I set a learning objective in general terms? For example, would the following objective be acceptable "To keep up to date with developments in my area of practice?"

13. As some of my learning objectives could be ongoing, can I repeat them every year?

14. Can my plan be adjusted throughout the year?

15. I am on maternity leave at the moment. I return to work midway through the year. What will happen with the timing of my CPD plan? Can I prepare my CPD plan later in the year?

16. Is there a guideline number of hours that I should aim for? 

17. Where can I find the list of permitted and excluded CPD activities?

18. Can my work on a particular case, for example research, count towards CPD?

19. Will barristers in employed practice with organisations (including solicitor firms that provide in-house CPD activities for the solicitors who perform the same role) be able to rely on these activities?

20. Do I have to undertake any CPD activities that are accredited by the BSB (or any other training provider)?

21. How can I set learning objectives if there are no suitable CPD activities that I am able to attend?

22. What do you mean by "reflection" and what is the deadline by which I should have completed this stage?

23. The BSB requires that I declare that I have completed CPD during the annual Authorisation to Practise process. Does this mean that I will not be able to renew my practising certificate if I have not completed CPD?

24. How many years' worth of CPD records must I retain?

25. How will the adequacy of my CPD record be assessed?

26. Will the new scheme take into account the CPD that I completed in previous years?

27. If illness prevents me from completing my CPD plan should I just record this? Will this be considered as non-compliance?

28. What happens if I fail to complete certain learning objectives? Or all of them?

29. How will you deal with an assessment of non-compliance?

1. What are the deadlines for completion? Does my CPD plan have to be produced by 1 January in a given year?

Your CPD plan does not need to be set by 1 January in a given year. However, there is a deadline that your CPD planning, your actual CPD activities and your reflection must be completed by 31 December. 

It would be good practice to complete your CPD plan in the first quarter of the year in order to give yourself as much time as possible to find and undertake appropriate CPD activities to fulfil your learning objectives.

The four stages of the CPD cycle should be completed in the order prescribed.

2. I am based and practise overseas and/or hold dual practice status. To what extent do the CPD rules apply to me?

If you hold a practising certificate in England and Wales, then the new CPD requirements apply to you in the same way as for other barristers. But because there is no longer a requirement to complete accredited activities it should be easier for you to find relevant CPD to complete.

3. I am on the New Practitioner Programme (NPP) CPD scheme. What are my CPD requirements?

In accordance with the BSB Handbook, barristers on the NPP scheme should continue to complete the minimum set number of hours of CPD and the compulsory courses (Advocacy, Ethics and Forensic Accounting).

From 1 January 2017, there is no requirement for NPP barristers to complete any accredited CPD activities.

The compulsory courses within NPP should still be completed through the specific approved training providers. These are the Inns and Circuits for Advocacy and Ethics, and BPP for Forensic Accounting.

You can find out more about the NPP scheme on our website.

4. For barristers on the NPP scheme, will the list of permitted and non-permitted activities that are set out in the 2016 CPD Guide remain the same?

Yes. The current guidance still applies to the NPP scheme, as does the list of permitted and non-permitted activities. You can find this guide on our website.

 

Templates and CPD administration


5. Has the BSB produced a template that I can use to complete my CPD Plan, my record of activity and my reflection?

Yes. A suggested template can be found on our website. You do not have to use our template if you would rather use your own. You may belong to an organisation or Specialist Bar Association that has produced its own CPD template. These would also be acceptable.

We will produce completed examples of CPD records. They are designed to act as useful prompts. However, if you prefer you may use a different approach to structure your plan and complete your CPD requirements.

6. My organisation uses an internal system to record CPD planning, activities and reflection. Can I continue to use this system in order to comply with the CPD requirements?

Yes. If you use an internal system that meets the requirement to plan and record your CPD activities, you can use this. If you are asked to submit your CPD records to us, it may also be sufficient to submit your internal development form rather than having to transcribe the CPD records onto a separate form.

7. Is there an obligation on chambers to manage and administer the CPD compliance of members?  For example, to retain any records on behalf of their barristers?

Individual barristers are responsible for completing and retaining their records of CPD completion. We will generally contact barristers directly when monitoring individual compliance, rather than contacting chambers.

However, all barristers should have regard to rules rC89-rC90 of the BSB Handbook as to how they administer their practice. This will be particularly relevant for Heads of Chambers and other senior members of chambers. 

Separate guidance for Heads of Chambers and Chambers administration is available on our website.

8. Is there any obligation on BSB entities to manage and administer the CPD of any of their practising barristers, for example to retain any CPD records on behalf of barristers?

Authorised bodies should note rC94 of the BSB Handbook and must take reasonable steps to ensure that regulated individuals comply with our regulatory arrangements as they apply to them. CPD is one of these regulatory arrangements. 

 

Planning and learning objectives


9. The CPD guidance sets out five general areas for training and development that I should consider when setting my learning objectives:

  • Legal knowledge and skills;
  • Advocacy;
  • Practice management;
  • Working with clients and others; and
  • Ethics, professionalism and judgement.

Is it a requirement that all of these areas must have learning objectives associated with them every year?

No it is not a requirement that all of these areas must have learning objectives associated with them every year. However, you should have regard to the areas listed within the guidance and carefully consider whether these areas are the most appropriate for you to use within you CPD learning plan.

You may choose to set learning objectives in all of these areas in a particular year. Equally, you may set learning objectives in only some of these areas.

10. Is it acceptable for me not to include advocacy or practice management within my CPD plan, if I am in employed practice and not carrying out advocacy or if I am not responsible for managing a practice?

Yes. The choice of which knowledge and skill areas to include within your CPD plan is yours. It may be appropriate that certain areas rarely, if ever, get chosen as the focus within your learning objectives. You should always consider your duties in the Handbook and have regard to the guidance and your own circumstances to ensure that learning objectives are appropriate for your own needs. The main purpose of the new CPD scheme is that you consider the learning and development that is most relevant for your needs.  

11. How many learning objectives would you expect me to identify in any one year?

There is no set number of learning objectives that you should aim to complete in a year.

12. Can I set a learning objective in general terms? For example, would the following objective be acceptable "To keep up to date with developments in my area of practice?"

The CPD requirements state that learning objectives should be specific and measureable and that they should be formulated with regard to the guidance. It is unlikely that a single, high level, generic objective of this nature would be compliant.

However, it is anticipated that barristers will want to set some high level learning objectives that address core requirements such as keeping up to date with legal developments. You should then seek to set some more specific learning objectives.

13. As some of my learning objectives could be ongoing, can I repeat them every year?

It may be appropriate to repeat some learning objectives. There is a distinction between repeating a few individual learning objectives every year and repeating an entire plan.

If an entire plan is the same every year then we would need to assess whether your learning objectives had been accurately set and whether the activities completed adequately met the definition of CPD.

14. Can my plan be adjusted throughout the year?

Yes. Your plan and learning objectives can be altered throughout the year. For example, if new learning objectives become appropriate or if your previously set learning objectives become irrelevant.

The reasons for these variations should be noted on your CPD record and within your reflection.

15. I am on maternity leave at the moment. I return to work midway through the year. What will happen with the timing of my CPD plan? Can I prepare my CPD plan later in the year?

There is no set deadline for when the CPD plan should be completed as long as all of your CPD requirements are completed by 31 December. Therefore, if you are returning to work mid-way through the year your plan can reflect this.

 

Completing activities


16. Is there a guideline number of hours that I should aim for? 

No. The amount of CPD hours that you complete is of no direct relevance to compliance. We have deliberately not provided a guide to the amount of CPD you should be completing. In the first instance, you are best placed to make an assessment of how much CPD you need to undertake to complete your learning objectives successfully.

We have included an hours column within our template because the length of time spent on a particular activity may, sometimes, be a useful indicator for us about whether an activity can reasonably be said to have been completed or whether or not it meets the definition of CPD. For example, five minutes of reading would reasonably be viewed differently to attending a two hour lecture.

17. Where can I find the list of permitted and excluded CPD activities?

The list of permitted activities can be found in our guidance.

The list of excluded activities is limited and can also be found in the guidance.

18. Can my work on a particular case, for example research, count towards CPD?

Work undertaken for a specific case (including pro bono work) will generally not count towards CPD.

The purpose of CPD is to develop structured learning which focuses on particular pre-defined outcomes. This is different from the learning which is acquired through experience on a case. We want to encourage both types of learning to occur in a barrister's practice.

In addition, the work that you undertake during a case for your client should be kept distinct from your personal training requirements.

However, particularly large cases may result in research being carried out that is over and above or tangential to the case. It may be appropriate for this work to be considered a CPD activity if it contributes to you meeting a pre-set learning objective.

19. Will barristers in employed practice with organisations (including solicitor firms that provide in-house CPD activities for the solicitors who perform the same role) be able to rely on these activities?

In-house CPD activities that are aimed at other professionals, including solicitors, can still be considered relevant CPD activities as long as they meet your learning objectives.

20. Do I have to undertake any CPD activities that are accredited by the BSB (or any other training provider)?

No. From 1 January 2017, the BSB accreditation system ceased to operate. There is no requirement to complete any accredited activities from other training providers.  

21. How can I set learning objectives if there are no suitable CPD activities that I am able to attend?

The range of CPD activities that is now permitted is wider than under the previous scheme. This should mean that you can complete most of the learning objectives that you need to set. If you set a learning objective and then cannot find an appropriate CPD activity, then you should record this as part your reflection.

 

Reflection


22. What do you mean by "reflection" and what is the deadline by which I should have completed this stage?

Reflection is the process by which you evaluate the CPD activity that you completed during the year and where you consider whether or not your learning objectives have been met. You can find out more about the reflection stage within our guidance.

The deadline for completing your reflection is 31 December. However, it is good practice to reflect throughout the year and as soon as possible after a learning objective is completed.

 

Declaring compliance


23. The BSB requires that I declare that I have completed CPD during the annual Authorisation to Practise process. Does this mean that I will not be able to renew my practising certificate if I have not completed CPD?

You will still be granted a practising certificate even if you declare non-compliance with your CPD requirements. Upon declaring your non-compliance with CPD, our CPD Assessment Team will be informed and they will contact you to discuss any supervisory action that may be required.

It is worth noting that this process does not represent a change in how a declaration of CPD non-compliance was treated under the previous CPD system.

24. How many years' worth of CPD records must I retain?

You must retain three years' worth of records.

 

Assessment and Supervision


25. How will the adequacy of my CPD record be assessed?

We will assess your CPD record by looking at the four stages of the CPD cycle: Your CPD planning, the CPD activities that you have undertaken, your reflection and your declaration to us.

We will assess whether or not you have met the requirements and definitions of the rules. We will also consider whether or not you have had due regard to the guidance.

Rather than looking at each stage in isolation, our approach will be to consider how effectively you have complied with all of the stages of your CPD. In other words, we will be taking a holistic approach to the CPD that you have planned, undertaken and reflected upon throughout the year.

26. Will the new scheme take into account the CPD that I completed in previous years?

The new CPD scheme will emphasise the "Continuing" element of "Continuing Professional Development". This means that your learning objectives can be set with reference to any CPD that you completed previously and any that you anticipate completing in the future. Any learning objectives that you fail to complete can be carried over and completed in the future.

From a monitoring point of view, we may request that you submit several years' worth of CPD records in our spot checks. This will help us to build an overall picture of how you have set your learning objectives, completed your CPD activities and reflected upon your activities.

27. If illness prevents me from completing my CPD plan should I just record this? Will this be considered as non-compliance?

You should record the fact that illness prevented you from completing your plan. Serious illness that prevents completion of the CPD plan would not be considered non-compliance.

28. What happens if I fail to complete certain learning objectives? Or all of them?

If you have outstanding learning objectives at the end of the year these should be recorded in your reflection along with an indication as to how you intend to complete them in the future (if they are still relevant).

In normal circumstances (and if they are still relevant), we would expect you to complete the outstanding learning objectives in the following year.

29. How will you deal with an assessment of non-compliance?

We will contact you to tell you the result of our assessment and provide you with feedback. In the first instance, Corrective Action will be set which will aim to address and rectify the areas of non-compliance.

Corrective Action is not a disciplinary action and is not included on your record.

If you do not complete the Corrective Action or entirely fail to engage with the process then you may be referred to our Professional Conduct Department for enforcement action.

We only plan to use disciplinary proceedings as a method of last resort when regulating CPD.

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