All solicitors will be required to commit to a statement of continuing competence from next year, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has confirmed.

The publication of the statement was approved by the SRA board yesterday after a 12-week consultation with the profession.

The statement forms part of the new approach to the education and training of solicitors, moving away from the prescriptive system of continuing professional development.

The overall benchmark has three sections: the statement itself, the statement of knowledge and the threshold standard. It will be published on the SRA website in early April, at the same time solicitors are able to move to the new approach to continuing competence.

The new approach will be compulsory for all new and existing solicitors from November 2016.

The competence statement itself will be made up of four elements: ethics professionalism and judgement; technical legal practice; working with other people; and 'managing themselves and their own work'.

The final category introduces the concept of applying good business practice, including demonstrating an adequate understanding of the financial context in which solicitors are working and managing available resources efficiently.

Martin Coleman, chair of the SRA’s education and training committee, said: ‘The competence statement gives important guidance to solicitors on the standards they are expected to meet. 

‘This is for work we are now undertaking on the competences we expect of would-be solicitors, and also to ensure continuing competence following the abolition of the mandatory continuing professional development hours requirement.’

The consultation received 72 formal responses, most of which supported the competence statement as a benchmark of what solicitors should be able to do.

A proposal will now be submitted to the Legal Services Board to amend the notes under principle five of the SRA Principles. This will make it clear that, for a solicitor, meeting the competences set out in the competence statement is a requirement of the principle which states ‘you must provide a proper standard of service to your clients’.