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Six-month countdown to new competence regime starts now

CPD is no longer a 'box to be ticked', explains managing partner

20 April 2016

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With just over six months to go until the old continuing professional development (CPD) requirements consigned to the dustbin of regulatory history, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reminded practitioners and firms to prepare for the new approach to continuing competence.

All solicitors must move to the new competency-based approach on 1 November 2016, whereby the traditional counting of CPD hours will no longer be needed.

In addition, requirements to complete particular types of training, whether accredited or not, have also been scrapped.

Instead, solicitors have been encouraged to 'reflect' on their practice and the quality of their work, before undertaking 'meaningful training' to ensure they stay competent.

The new approach to continuing competence is linked to the SRA's Competence Statement published in April 2015, which defines the standards required of all solicitors.

Paul Philip, the SRA's chief executive, said: 'This approach is about protecting the public by making sure solicitors remain competent, ethical, and up to date. We take this obligation seriously and will continue to require all solicitors to make an annual declaration about their continuing competence.

'We recognise that each individual solicitor and firm is different and will have different approaches to learning and development. We believe that removing the blanket 16 hours requirement will reduce the cost of regulation for some solicitors and their employers, while encouraging meaningful continuing professional development.'

A recent SRA survey showed that almost half of firm and solicitor respondents have already moved to the new approach.

Of these, 60 per cent said they did this at no extra cost to their business and were able to align it with their firm's existing systems. Three-quarters said adopting the new approach took three months or less to implement.

Stuart Snape, the managing partner at Graham Coffey & Co, who has already moved to the new regime, said: 'This change of approach gave us the opportunity to stop seeing CPD as something "only for solicitors" or a "box to be ticked" and to better understand how it benefits our business.

'We know that it is in our firm's interest to welcome a more personalised and flexible approach to continued training as it helps maximise our staff's potential. This means we will continue to deliver a high quality, professional service to the public.'

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