Ensuring continuing competence

On 21 May 2014, the SRA Board agreed to implement a new approach to ensuring continuing competence. This will involve reforming our existing continuing professional development framework so that regulated entities and individuals have the freedom and flexibility to determine how best they remain up to date. The new approach is all about competence, and individuals and firms will need to ask themselves what training they need to do to remain competent, rather than simply doing 16 hours CPD because we say so.

To implement this new approach, we will be making a number of changes to our regulations:

  • from 1 November 2014, individual solicitors will not be required to undertake 25% of their annual CPD through accredited training;
  • from Spring 2015, we will allow firms and individuals to voluntarily adopt the new approach, instead of complying with the current 16 hours CPD requirement; and
  • from 1 November 2016, we will remove the requirement to undertake a minimum of 16 hours CPD activity.

We will be issuing a policy statement in Autumn 2014 to outline these changes in more detail and explain how they affect the 2014/15 CPD year. In Spring 2015, we will publish a toolkit of resources to support firms and individuals who wish to adopt the new approach. In the meantime, we have produced a number of Q&A to help explain our new approach. A selection of the most frequently asked questions are below. You can find more about this new approach, including more Q&A at

Does the decision to adopt a new approach to ensuring ongoing competence mean that the SRA isn't interested in training and development?

Not at all. We think this is a better approach to training. It is also indicative of a greater focus within the SRA on competence. We are recognising that firms and individuals are better placed than us to know what training they need to do; that training needs vary. We think the new approach will mean training contributes to competent legal services. Firms and individuals will still remain bound by Principle 5 of the SRA Handbook to provide a proper standard of service to clients.

Are you going to put any new requirements on the COLP as a result of adopting this new approach?

We do not intend to introduce any new requirements on COLPs or other individuals within regulated entities for compliance with the outcomes in the Handbook relating to education and training as we believe this obligation is already covered by the existing obligations of the COLP and to introduce any new obligations would be unnecessary and unjustifiable.

How will you monitor compliance of the new approach?

We do not wish to introduce monitoring and compliance arrangements that significantly increase the cost of regulation or impose further burdens on those we regulate. We aim to develop an approach which embeds the concept of competence more clearly within our regulatory activities and seeks proactively to identify any significant risks or trends related to competence which require our intention.

What support will the SRA provide to individuals and firms?

A comprehensive communication and stakeholder engagement plan will be put into effect over the coming months. This will include the publication of the impact of our proposals on CPD providers and on what the proposals mean for the CPD year beginning on 1 October 2014. The supporting toolkit and competence statement for solicitors will be published in Spring 2015. This will enable those who wish to voluntarily opt-in to the new scheme at an earlier date to be able to reach an informed decision.

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