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Ensuring continuing competence in the solicitor profession
1 February 2023

Staying up to date and competent throughout a solicitor’s career is an important part of providing high quality legal services to those who need them. The SRA has published the actions they will be taking to ensure that solicitors comply with their responsibilities.

This plan is in response to the Legal Services Board’s (LSB) statement of policy on ongoing competence and sets out the work already undertaken in this area, such as setting the standards of competence that regulated individuals should meet at authorisation and beyond in its Statement of Solicitor Competence.

The SRA has also collected evidence and identified areas where competence might need to be improved.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: ‘We expect the profession to deliver a high standard of service to those who need their help. That means we must make sure that solicitors and the employees of firms we regulate have up-to-date skills, knowledge and behaviours.

‘During 2023 we will further improve how we identify solicitors and firms who are not meeting our expectations and work with individual solicitors and firms where we have concerns about competence. We will take enforcement action where necessary to protect consumers where standards fall short.’

The SRA is planning to measure the impact of its Statement of Solicitor Competence through its 10 year evaluation programme for the SQE and publish an annual determination of competence identifying the most significant risks around competence. This will inform the SRA’s regulatory approach.

This plan includes:

  • Taking forward the programme of thematic reviews to both target areas where competence is an identified risk and identify other competence-related risks which the regulator needs to address.
  • Continuing to review training records, focusing on high-risk areas that have already been identified (for example, immigration advice and services) and looking at where they need to respond to any areas of risk or concern identified in the annual assessment.
  • Responding to individual cases of incompetence on a case-by-case basis and taking remedial and enforcement action, such as to require training or enhanced supervision, where it is appropriate to do so.
  • Enhancing its approach to following up on competence reports which do not meet the SRA’s threshold for enforcement.
  • Piloting a proactive, risk-based approach to identifying and following up with firms where data and information indicates they may not be meeting the SRA’s standards for competence.

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