Training establishments

Version 9 of the Handbook was published on 1 April 2014. For more information, please click "History" above.

Part 3: Training establishments

Regulation 3: Application

3.1

Regulations 3-14 apply to training establishments, and "you" and "your" should be construed accordingly.

Regulation 4: Taking of trainees

4.1

You may only enter into a training contract with an individual if:

(a)

you have been authorised as a training establishment under regulation 2;

(b)

you are satisfied that the individual has current and valid student enrolment;

(c)

you comply with regulation 8.2; and

(d)

you set out in a letter of offer to the individual key information as to the terms and conditions to be included in the training contract.

4.2

You may enter into a training contract with an individual only if the training contract is in such form and containing such terms and conditions as we may from time to time prescribe.

Guidance notes:

(i)

In order to comply with regulation 4.1(b), it is not necessary to contact us. It is sufficient for you to see the certificate of enrolment (usually a certifying letter issued by us) provided by the individual.

(ii)

Best practice requires that the following information should be set out within the letter of offer, in addition to any other information that may be useful for the prospective trainee:

(a)

the type of training contract, with start and end dates;

(b)

starting salary and arrangements for salary review;

(c)

any conditions to which the offer is subject, for example confirmation of satisfactory completion of the LPC or student enrolment;

(d)

fees your organisation will pay in respect of re-sits and re-attendance on the PSC (you are required to pay for the first attempt);

(e)

any probationary period before the training contract is signed;

(f)

how training will be organised, such as the nature of your organisation's practice, the areas of law and the skills in which the trainee will gain experience;

(g)

whether the trainee will work in separate seats and, if so, how this will be arranged;

(h)

how long the trainee should expect to spend on each area of law;

(i)

details of any secondments-see regulation 11 and the accompanying guidance note;

(j)

if the training contract is a modular training contract, full details of the arrangements-see regulation 12 and its attached guidance;

(k)

any other benefits, including benefits in kind, sickness benefit, holiday entitlement;

(l)

hours of work and office hours; and

(m)

any arrangements for continuing employment on completion of the training contract.

Regulation 5: Commencement, registration and termination of a training contract

5.1

You, and the trainee, must sign the training contract within three months of the date that the trainee has commenced in that capacity.

5.2

You must register each training contract with us within one month of the date on which it was signed by you and the trainee, using the form prescribed by us from time to time.

5.3

You may terminate a training contract in accordance with the provisions of regulation 26 of the SRA Training Regulations Part 1 - Qualification Regulations.

Guidance note:

(i)

You can register a training contract on our website. The online registration form covers:

(a)

the type of training contract;

(b)

the start and end dates;

(c)

the salary the trainee will be paid; and

(d)

details of any reduction in the period of the training contract you have granted in accordance with regulation 7.2.

Regulation 6: Responsibilities of training establishments

6.1

If you are a training establishment you must:

(a)

provide the trainee with opportunities for:

(i)

practical experience in at least three distinct areas of English law;

(ii)

development of skills in both contentious and non-contentious work; and

(iii)

development of the skills needed in practice so as to meet the Practice Skills Standards;

(b)

ensure the maintenance of a training contract record by the trainee, linking the experience he or she has gained to the skills he or she has developed;

(c)

provide close supervision by qualified solicitors, or others with the appropriate experience in English law, in accordance with regulation 16;

(d)

provide the trainee with regular feedback and appraisals throughout his or her training, including at least three formal appraisals during the period of the training contract;

(e)

not amend the training contract unless you have our approval of the terms of the amendment;

(f)

allow paid study-leave to attend courses prescribed by us, such as the PSC;

(g)

pay:

(i)

at least the minimum salary prescribed from time to time by us; and

(ii)

the trainee's PSC fees and expenses for the first attempt; and

(h)

take no more than two trainees for each partner or senior solicitor with a current and four previous consecutive practising certificates.

Guidance note:

(i)

You are free to organise training on your own pattern provided that you meet the requirements of regulation 6. Typically, training is organised in one of two ways:

(a)

the trainee works in at least three distinct seats, spending a specified period (usually about six months) in each; or

(b)

the trainee works in various areas of law on a day-to-day basis, in line with the type of work available.

(ii)

During the training contract, trainees develop and practise the skills they will use as qualified solicitors. The key elements of each skill-and the type of experience that will help trainees to develop it-are specified in the Practice Skills Standards. Trainees develop the skills through a mixture of the following activities:

(a)

completing work and tasks by themselves;

(b)

assisting others; and

(c)

observing experienced practitioners.

(iii)

Regulation 6.1(b) requires you to ensure that a trainee maintains, on a regular basis, an adequate training contract record of the experience that he or she is getting and the skills that he or she is developing. We expect that by the end of the training contract, the record will show the trainee's level of attainment in relation to the requirements set out in regulation 6.1(a).

(iv)

We do not prescribe the format of the training contract record, but we recommend that it includes:

(a)

details of work performed;

(b)

skills used (with reference to the Practice Skills Standards);

(c)

the trainee's observations or reflections on his or her performance, including any gaps in his or her experiences or skills;

(d)

any other training or professional development; and

(e)

any professional conduct issues that may have arisen.

(v)

A sample training contract record form can be downloaded from our website.

(vi)

We recommend an informal performance review about once per month. This will help supervisors and trainees to:

(a)

review progress toward agreed objectives;

(b)

deal with any difficulties close to the event;

(c)

compare the breadth and depth of work being performed by the trainee with the requirements of regulation 6.1 and the Practice Skills Standards;

(d)

address any professional conduct or ethics issues that may have arisen;

(e)

discuss future training; and

(f)

plan future or remedial learning.

(vii)

The training contract record can also be used as part of formal appraisal and informal performance review. In respect of regulation 6.1(d), we recommend that you formally appraise trainees every six months. Further guidance and sample appraisal forms are available.

Regulation 7: Recognition of previous experience

7.1

If you are a training establishment you may grant a reduction in the period of the training contract in recognition of previous experience only if you are satisfied that:

(a)

the trainee's experience on which you base the reduction:

(i)

was equivalent to that gained in a training contract;

(ii)

was in English law, and in one or more areas of law;

(iii)

was gained in the three years immediately preceding the commencement of the training contract;

(iv)

allowed the acquisition of one or more of the Practice Skills Standards; and

(b)

the trainee:

(i)

was adequately supervised;

(ii)

was appraised; and

(iii)

worked either full-time or not less than two and a half days per week (or the equivalent).

7.2

If you are a training establishment, you may grant a reduction in the period of the training contract in recognition of previous experience of not less than one month (30 days) and no more than six months (183 days).

7.3

If you are a training establishment you must notify us of any reduction in the period of the training contract you have granted under regulation 7.2.

Guidance note:

(i)

You have no obligation to accept previous experience and any reduction in the period of the training contract is entirely at your discretion.

(ii)

When complying with regulation 7(3), you may notify us either:

(a)

when you register the training contract or;

(b)

after registration.

Regulation 8: Appointment of training principal

8.1

If you are a training establishment you must:

(a)

nominate a training principal who will be responsible for compliance with the requirements of regulation 15; and

(b)

notify us of the training principal's name and of any change of training principal.

8.2

If you are a training establishment you may not take a trainee until your nominated training principal has been approved by us.

Regulation 9: Induction of trainees

9.1

If you are a training establishment, you must provide an adequate induction for all trainees at the beginning of the training contract, including those who have worked for you before in another capacity.

Guidance note:

(i)

You are free to organise trainees' induction in the way that best suits your business or organisation. However, we are unlikely to regard an induction as adequate unless it includes:

(a)

an introduction to your organisation, the training scheme, the Practice Skills Standards and your expectations of the trainee;

(b)

how the training will be organised;

(c)

the form of the training contract record that you want the trainee to keep, how and when it is to be completed, and when it will be reviewed;

(d)

arrangements for supervision, informal performance review and formal appraisals;

(e)

your office procedures including pastoral care, office hours, holidays, and health and safety;

(f)

any other relevant matters, such as your IT and office equipment and systems for time-recording and billing, library and research facilities, secretarial and administrative support.

Regulation 10: Training of trainee solicitors

10.1

If you are a training establishment you must provide each trainee with:

(a)

subject to regulation 10.2, the opportunity to develop their skills in contentious and non-contentious work as specified in the Practice Skills Standards;

(b)

subject to regulation 10.2, sufficient practical experience in at least three distinct areas of English law for the trainee to be trained properly in each area;

(c)

guiding and tutoring in professional conduct, ethics and client care;

(d)

a gradual increase in the level and complexity of the trainee's work during the period of the training contract;

(e)

proper supervision; and

(f)

regular review and appraisal of his or her performance, including guidance and feedback on his or her performance against the Practice Skills Standards.

10.2

If you cannot provide trainees with the range of experience set out in regulation 10.1(a) or (b), you must arrange either:

(a)

a secondment, in accordance with regulation 11; or

(b)

a modular training contract in accordance with regulation 12;

for the trainee.

Regulation 11: Secondment of trainee solicitors

11.1

You may arrange a secondment in accordance with regulation 11, even where you can provide the range of experience set out in regulation 10.1(a) or (b).

11.2

If you are a training establishment, and you arrange a secondment for a trainee, you must ensure that the secondment complies with the requirements in regulation 10.

Regulation 12: Modular training contracts

12.1

If you are a training establishment, you may only offer a modular training contract if you have:

(a)

made an arrangement for provision of the training contract with other firms as a training contract consortium;

(b)

agreed with the other firms in the training contract consortium a training contract consortium agreement to include the following:

(i)

details of how all the duties towards trainees set out in these regulations, in particular regulation 6, will be discharged by the training contract consortium;

(ii)

the names of all firms who are members of the training contract consortium;

(iii)

specification of the parent training establishment for the training contract consortium;

(iv)

arrangements between the members of the training contract consortium for co-ordinating the trainee's training;

(v)

financial arrangements between the members of the training contract consortium, including contributions to the training costs, payment of salary, authorisation, registration and PSC fees and expenses;

(vi)

adequate safeguards for the discharge of all duties towards the trainees in the event of any of the members of the training contract consortium being unable to discharge their duties under the training contract consortium agreement;

(vii)

any mechanisms for dealing with queries and for resolving problems and disputes; and

(viii)

adequate safeguards to protect client confidentiality and the confidentiality of the participating organisations' business arrangements.

12.2

If you are a parent training establishment for a training contract consortium you must:

(a)

be authorised to take trainees in compliance with regulation 2; and

(b)

have a training principal, or appoint a training principal in compliance with regulation 8; and

(c)

ensure that the training contracts comply with the requirements in regulation 10.

12.3

If you are a training principal appointed under regulation 12.2(b), you must comply with:

(a)

regulation 15; and

(b)

any other obligations on training principals set out in these regulations.

12.4

Before taking trainees, a training contract consortium must be approved by us. If you are the parent training establishment, you must provide us with:

(a)

the names, full addresses and contact numbers of the training contract consortium;

(b)

details of the parent training establishment;

(c)

the name of the training principal;

(d)

either:

(i)

if the parent training establishment is authorised to take trainees, the date of the authorisation; or

(ii)

if the parent training establishment is not yet authorised, an application for authorisation to take trainees;

(e)

details of whether the other training contract consortium members are authorised to take trainees, including, if any are, the date(s) of authorisation and the name(s) of the training principal(s);

(f)

a copy of the training contract consortium agreement;

(g)

the names, job titles, length of legal experience and areas of law practised by the supervisors at each member of the training contract consortium;

(h)

the training contract consortium's recruitment and selection procedures;

(i)

the areas of law in which the trainees are to be provided with experience;

(j)

a timetable and training plan, to include:

(i)

proposed start date of the training contract;

(ii)

dates on which trainees will move between members of the training contract consortium;

(iii)

arrangements for trainees regarding attending the PSC, annual leave and appraisals;

(k)

trainees' induction programme;

(l)

pastoral care arrangements;

(m)

the systems for informal performance review and formal appraisals;

(n)

any provisions to ensure confidentiality of client information;

(o)

any systems for liaison between members of the training contract consortium;

(p)

any mechanisms for resolving problems and disputes; and

(q)

a copy of the training contract(s).

Guidance note:

(i)

The aim of a modular training contract is for two or more organisations to provide training as a consortium. It has been designed for firms and other organisations that want to take trainees but are unable, on their own, to meet all the requirements of these regulations.

(ii)

A modular training contract, while it may be structured in a different way, should be as close to the standard training contract in terms of form and content as possible. It will need to offer as rich an experience as a standard training contract, and the same quality of training and supervision. Amendments should relate only to the modular nature of the training contract and the final form is subject to approval by us.

(iii)

We suggest that, in the first instance, the training contract consortium run a pilot scheme. The pilot scheme would be evaluated and monitored by the consortium and by us-so that any problems could be resolved and good practice could be used for the future.

(iv)

Confidentiality matters should be covered at induction and in professional conduct training. The training contract consortium members should also consider an appropriate confidentiality clause in the modular training contract.

Regulation 13: Absences from work of trainees

13.1

If you are a training establishment, you must permit a trainee to have absences from work, during the period of the training contract, in accordance with regulation 25 of the SRA Training Regulations Part 1 - Qualification Regulations.

Regulation 14: Monitoring of training contracts and SRA powers

14.1

We may monitor the training provided by a training establishment, by visits to the premises of the training establishment or other means.

14.2

Either:

(a)

if a:

(i)

training establishment ;

(ii)

training principal ;

(iii)

person supervising a trainee; or

(iv)

trainee ;

fails to comply with any of these regulations; or

(b)

if we are not satisfied either that:

(i)

a trainee is receiving, or has received; or

(ii)

the training establishment can give the trainee;

adequate training ;

then we may exercise such of the powers set out in regulation 14.3 as we consider appropriate.

14.3

If any of the conditions in regulation 14.2 are met, we may, as we consider appropriate:

(a)

declare that a training establishment ceases to be such;

(b)

prohibit a training establishment from taking any, or more than a specified number of, trainee solicitors for such period as we may determine or until otherwise determined by us;

(c)

impose any other conditions upon the training establishment which we consider appropriate;

(d)

terminate the training contract on such terms as we may determine;

(e)

direct that all or any part of the period a trainee has served shall not be reckoned as good service under a training contract;

(f)

direct that a trainee:

(i)

serve such further period under a training contract; or

(ii)

receive such further training for such further period and in such form;

as we require;

(g)

direct that a training principal undertake such training as we require; and/or

(h)

take such other action as we may consider necessary or appropriate.

14.4

Any training establishment or trainee who is aggrieved by any decision made under regulation 14.2 may apply for review of it in accordance with regulation 2.5.

14.5

We may conciliate disputes between a training establishment and a trainee in accordance with regulation 27 of the SRA Training Regulations Part 1 - Qualification Regulations.