Firms and solicitors will have to sign an annual declaration pledging their commitment to continuing professional development instead of completing the current 16-hour mandatory requirement, the SRA has said today.

The SRA approved proposals in its board meeting, which will put the onus on firms and solicitors to decide how much and what type of CPD they need.

The policy and regulatory change, first reported by the Gazette on Monday, is now awaiting final approval from the Legal Services Board and will take effect from November 2016 – a year later than originally proposed.

SRA board member Martin Coleman said: ‘We will be requiring firms and individuals to make an annual declaration that they have assessed their [CPD] needs and taken appropriate measures.’

He said the declaration would be made via the annual practising certificate renewal.

However, SRA board member Paul Marsh (pictured), a former Law Society president, said he was ‘anxious’ that it could lead to firms dropping CPD entirely. ‘The fear that some firms might dump it is a risk,’ he said.

But Coleman said: ‘The vast majority of law firms take CPD seriously. Why should we impose a disproportionate regulatory cost and burden just because of a minority,’ he said. ‘We have to be a proportionate regulator.’

Julie Brannan, the SRA’s director of education and training, said the move was designed to provide a more flexible and modern approach to training. As it stands the 16-hour requirement is an ‘arbitrary number’ she said.

The regulator will cease to accredit CPD courses from November 2014. It also intends to issue a toolkit to support a ‘culture change’ to the new approach.

The recommendation was first proposed in February in the regulator’s Training for Tomorrow: A new approach to continuing competence consultation.

However, the Society and Legal Services Consumer Panel have criticised the plans.