SRA board to scrap need for 16 hours training in competence overhaul

The board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has approved a radical overhaul of the regime for ensuring solicitors remain competent.

At a meeting today the SRA board opted for the option of revoking the current CPD scheme including the requirement to complete 16 hours' CPD training in a year. Existing provisions in the Handbook "requiring a proper standard of legal practice and of training and supervision" will be relied upon instead, it said.

The other options consulted upon but rejected by the SRA were:

  • Replacing the current CPD scheme with a new mandatory requirement where solicitors would have a development plan to identify and record their training needs but without a specified number of compulsory hours.
  • Retaining the current requirement to do a minimum number of CPD hours but requiring the training to relate to current or anticipated legal practice and recognising a wider range of development activity.

The board said it chose the first option because it focused on the effectiveness of training, gave individuals – and firms – more flexibility and choice in the training they felt was appropriate, and reduced the burden of regulation.

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The plans approved will also mean that training providers no longer need to be authorised by the SRA.

The Legal Services Board will now examine the proposals. The SRA said the new approach would be phased in from Spring 2015 and fully introduced by November 2016.

The regulator added that solicitors and firms wishing to adopt the new approach early on would be able to do so from Spring 2015 when a ‘Competence Statement’ (indicating what a competent solicitor should look like), and supporting guidance, are due to be published.

Julie Brannan, the SRA's Director of Education and Training, said: “The SRA is, and will continue to be, focused on the importance of lawyers ensuring that they remain able to give competent advice to those consumers that cannot check for themselves. This is a much better approach to continuing competence. It means firms and individuals can do the training they need, in the way which suits them best.  

"We realise that the change will mean a significant culture shift for individuals and firms. We will address this by a gradual approach to implementation, as well as by publishing supporting guidance for solicitors, including the new Solicitors' Competence Statement, in Spring 2015.”

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