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Malaysian Bar Council Plans Mandatory CPD

The Malaysian Bar Council Will Table A Motion For Mandatory CPD

After three unsuccessful attempts, the Malaysian Bar Council is once again pushing for mandatory CPD training. The motion will be tabled tomorrow and if passed, a selected group of 6.000 pupils and lawyers (with less than 5 years of practice) must undergo compulsory CPD training beginning 1st July 2016 or face a fine. The Bar Council hopes to stagger the implementation of the scheme and eventually apply it to all members of the Bar.

The CPD operates on a point system. Every CPD activity is assigned a number of points that will be awarded to participants if they arrive punctually (not more than 15 minutes late), attend the activity in its entirety and do not leave before the scheduled end of the activity. Fines will be imposed on those who fail to obtain the required number of points by the end of each cycle.

It’s important to note however, that CPD programmes are already being carried out with 40% of Bar Council members participating, but they are currently not mandatory.

How the Malaysia Bar Council CPD motion works

While some lawyers support the motion, it also has other lawyers up in arms with claims of discrimination and impracticality. Trainees and fresh graduates already have to undergo rigorous training such as chambering and a compulsory ethics examination before being called to the Bar. Critics say that CPD will disrupt job opportunities for them and only serve to lengthen their training time.

Chairman of the Professional Standards & Development Committee of the Bar Council, Richard Wee, made note in his rebuttal to critics that CPD exists in several other professions including architects, engineers, pharmacists and also for lawyers in Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia and the Philippines.

Supporters say that the programme will benefit lawyers in the long run as the programme’s aim is to further improve the standards of the legal industry. The Bar Council appears to also have plans to further minimise inconvenience to participants such as online course booking and payment, training videos that are largely free, subsidised course fees and holding CPD courses in multiple locations.

Whether or not this motion will help or hinder the young lawyers remains to be seen.

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