Continuing Competence

Hasta la vista CPD! 

The new regulatory scheme for solicitors in England & Wales effective November 2016

November 2016 marks a significant change in the regulatory system governing Continuing Professional Development. Consigned to the recycle bin is the previous system characterised by:

-  The requirement that CPD training be obtained from 'accredited' providers only

-  The requirement that solicitors undertake a fixed quantum of 16 hours CPD training per anum

-  A quantative measure of laerning and development. Under the new systen quality rarther than quantity is key

In with the new - greater responsibility on the solicitor consumer and their firms

- 'Continuing Comptence' is the new by-word replacing 'Continuing Professional development'

- The system of 'accredited' course providers is abolished

- The mandatory requirement of 16 hours CPD per year for every solicitor is abolished

- The new system affords greater autonomy, and hence responsibility, for maintaining professional competence on solicitors and their firms

What does the new scheme involve? How do I ensure compliance?

Principle 5 of the SRA handbook requires every solicitor to provide a proper standard of service to their client. Ensuring continuing comeptence is an integral part of the solicitor's duty in this regard - 'Solicitors have a regulatory requirement to provide a proper standard of service. To do this, solicitors will need to reflect on their practice and undertake regular learning and development so their skills and knowledge remain up to date.' - SRA Competence Statement

The SRA website expressly stipulates that solicitors will be expected to undertake regular learning & development so that skills and knowledge remain up to date. There is also an obligation to keep a record of how learning and development needs have been mainatined in case the SRA needs to engage with a solicitor on a regulatory matter or where there is evidence of a competence risk.  Failure to demonstrate that you have reflected on the quality of your practice and addressed any learning & development needs may be an aggravating factor in any action which the SRA may take. 

The new scheme is not a soft option

The SRA website states of the new scheme;

'This is not a soft option to learning and development: you will need to think seriously about whether the quality of your practice meets your obligation to provide a proper standard of service. To do this successfully requires you to think about your strengths, weaknesses, what you can do better, and what you need to do to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.'

The consequences of non-compliance with the new scheme may include;

- The SRA taking remedial action
- Insurance companies refusing to provide full/any cover
- Your position may be compromised in any professional negligence claim
- Your practising certificate may be revoked/not issued

The 4 areas of the SRA competence statement

The SRA competence statement distinguishes 4 areas for the purposes of continuing comeptence:

- Ethics, professionalism & judgement

- Technical legal practice

- Working with other people

- Managing yourself and your own work

Your obligations

Each solicitor must:

- Reflect on his/her learning needs

- Plan your learning needs

- Execute and develop a plan for this

- Keep a record of learning undertaken.

This should be repeated on at least a quarterly basis.

 Modes to ensure continuing competence

The SRA website specifies a 'non exhaustive, non prescriptive' list of how learning and development to ensure continuing comeptence may be achieved;

- Formal training

- In house training

- Shared learning

- Informal training

- Research, reading, discussion

How Europa Law may assist you to demonstrate continuing competence

Our public and customized training programs and research and reporting facility will ensure you focus on your learning & development needs within the new scheme and because of their interactive nature will also help acquire shared learning goals. Our programs are especially relevant to various features of the new scheme as set out in the SRA competence statement.  Our programs will help you identify and plan your learning and development needs.

With respect to research, reading and discussion as a part of learning & development to ensure continuing competence, we can provide comprehensively researched and updated briefs on areas of law that may be relevant to your practice or to a group within your practice.

 For further information or to discuss how we may assist you in complying with the new regulatory scheme please contact us.