The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) uses continuing competence and compliance to ensure solicitors can do their jobs to the standard expected of them.
Continuing competence focuses on:
- identifying and reviewing your learning needs
- undertaking learning to meet your needs
- reflecting on your learning
- identifying and reviewing future learning needs
What are the regulatory obligations regarding Ongoing Competence?
Principle 5 of the SRA Handbook requires you to provide a proper standard of service to your client. For a solicitor, meeting the competencies set out in the Competence Statement forms an integral part of the requirement to provide a proper standard of service.
To do this, you will need to undertake regular learning and development so your skills and knowledge remain up to date. The regulator expects you to:
- reflect on the quality of your practice by reference to our Competence Statement to identify your learning and development needs. The Competence Statement is generic and so solicitors will need to apply it to their practice. Find out more about the Competence Statement and other ways to identify learning and development needs.
- plan and address your learning and development needs.
- record the above information so that, if the SRA need to engage with you on a regulatory matter or where they have evidence of a competence risk, you can demonstrate to them that you have taken steps to ensure your ongoing competence. Failure to demonstrate that you have reflected on the quality of your practice and addressed any learning and development needs may be an aggravating factor in the action they may take.
- make an annual declaration to confirm you have completed the above
Employers are responsible for delivering a proper standard of service to their clients and for training their staff to maintain a level of competence appropriate to their work and level of responsibility. You may want to consider how this resource aligns with your current approach to learning and development so that you continue to meet this obligation.
Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
Whilst the above rules have not changed since 2016 when they replaced CPD hour requirements, ‘continuing competency’ has been highlighted as one of the main focuses for the SRA. We have seen other areas of compliance, such as fee transparency and AML regulations, draw particular attention from the regulator in recent months. However, it is thought that how solicitors or law firms approach training will be given additional weight in the SRA’s continued drive to ensure they are meeting their obligations.
If firms want to remain compliant and avoid damaging investigations from the SRA, training, and the ability to evidence training records must be taken seriously.
Secondary to this but equally important is that PII insurers will expect firms to demonstrate they are taking appropriate action to mitigate the risks they face in delivering services to clients and taking the appropriate steps to ensure ongoing competence. It is not always possible to remove risk and the first step for a law firm is to implement appropriate controls to recognise, manage and control risk which strengthens the firm and help to manage a positive relationship between the firm, its Broker and Insurer.
Training and Compliance Solutions
At The Strategic Partner, we have recently seen an increase in various requests from the SRA to evidence records of training, risk and compliance audits, fee transparency on websites, and up to date policies and procedures.
Our goal is to ensure the firms we work with have, and retain a compliant structure enabling the firms, their managers, and owners to focus on the running of their business and servicing their clients.
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to risk and compliance and a pro-active response will not only keep the regulator from your door but will also help manage costs.
Some of our training and compliance solutions include:
– Training Services
Whether you are seeking training on a 1-2-1 or Group basis The Strategic Partner has a range of training courses and mentoring programmes to suit any firm and we can also design additional bespoke courses that you need. We have provided training to firms of all sizes, and our clients range from sole practitioners through to multi-office, multi-service firms with overseas offices.
Our goal is to become the Training Partner for Law Firms providing training using our in-house expertise or bringing in third-party experts where required.
All of our training is competitively priced and cost-effective. To view our range of Training Courses click on the link below:
– Risk, Regulation and Compliance Service including AML
Our Risk, Regulation and Compliance Service including AML provide firms with a robust approach to Regulations, Compliance and risk management, giving the compliance officers peace of mind that the requirements of the regulator are being met on an ongoing basis and can be evidenced. For firms with an internal team or person allocated to managing regulation and compliance, external expert support will enhance your internal strategies.
If you believe your firm may be at risk or you simply wish to confirm your firm is achieving the required standard, at The Strategic Partner, we offer a range of solutions which include: –
Review – A review of the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include AML procedures. The output of which provides the firm with a written gap analysis and solutions to remedy any issues.
– Training – to include:
AML Training for ALL staff to meet the firm’s obligation to provide annual training.
1-2-1 training for the MLRO and MLCO on their obligations and requirements.
Practical training for those involved in client onboarding to ensure their ID and AML checks are correctly completed.
Auditing – Procedural, staff, systems and files to ensure the procedures are up to the required standard and being implemented at case level with a report of the outcome.
Solutions – Implementation of robust solutions to ensure the firm achieves compliance and then maintains compliance through the provision of ongoing support and assistance: –
– Transparency Rules Review
The Strategic Partner’s compliance team will review your website for a fee of £50 and provide you with a written report that
- Highlights any issues you may have
- Advises the action to take to rectify any errors
We can also work with you to implement the changes if you require them.
Our team of expert and dedicated compliance officers are here to assist you and your firm.
Get in Touch
For more information on our risk and compliance products, training service or to speak to one of our compliance team you can click on the links below, visit our website www.thestrategicpartner.co.uk, email us email@example.com or call us on 020 3911 9710.