The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Competence Statement, which defines the standards required for a solicitor to practise, is among important changes made in Version 13 of the SRA Handbook published today.
The Competence Statement is a key part of changes made to introduce the new approach to continuing competence for solicitors who wish to adopt it from 1 April on a voluntary basis. A toolkit to support solicitors who want to adopt the new approach on a voluntary basis has also been launched on the SRA website today www.sra.org.uk/toolkit. Every solicitor will need to adopt the new approach from 1 November 2016.
Other major changes in Version 13 of the Handbook include:
- Changes to the SRA Compensation Fund Rules 2011 and the SRA Handbook Glossary 2012 setting out the eligibility criteria for individuals who are able to apply for a grant out of the SRA’s Compensation Fund.
- A new outcome which requires firms to assess and purchase an appropriate level of professional indemnity insurance and changes to the Minimum Terms and Conditions of cover (Appendix 1 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013) relating to the variation of multi-year policies, clarification of run-off cover and the introduction of a sanctions exclusion.
- Removal of transitional provisions relating to sole practitioners, ahead of changes to be made in November 2015 whereby sole practitioners will no longer require an annual endorsement on their PC. This will be replaced with an authorisation that does not need to be renewed annually.
- New rules enabling entities owned or managed by Registered European Lawyers (RELs) to be able to operate within England and Wales without necessarily needing to do so through an SRA authorised body.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “These changes are a significant step towards meeting our commitment to reform our regulatory model, encouraging growth in the sector, and ensuring our approach is proportionate. “Our Competence Statement has been developed with extensive input from the public, solicitors and training providers. It will play a key role in ensuring consumers can continue to rely on the quality of legal services they receive from solicitors.”
The Handbook can be accessed here:
All changes to the handbook were agreed by the SRA Board between November 2014 and March 2015 this year. A consultation on the assessment framework for the Competence Statement will take place later this year. The SRA is already engaging with stakeholders on this matter.
The Competence Statement can be accessed here:
The toolkit can be found here: