The Solicitors Regulation Authority today pledged to scrap the requirement for solicitors to complete 16 hours of continuing professional development (CPD).
In February the regulator proposed an overhaul of CPD, in its Training for Tomorrow: A new approach to continuing competence consultation.
In it the SRA described the current CPD regime as largely ‘tick-box’ with no real focus on the quality or appropriateness of the professional development undertaken. The regulator’s preferred option is to provide non-mandatory guidance.
Solicitors currently have to complete 16 hours of CPD training per year.
In its board papers, published today ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the SRA said the committee agrees with the preferred option to revoke the current CPD scheme in order to provide greater flexibility.
It said: ‘With the growing role of non-lawyers within regulated entities, our focus must shift towards the entity to ensure competent services.’
However, following concerns that the proposals could lead to the cessation of training in some firms, the SRA said it would phase the plans in to ensure the profession is ready for the ‘culture change.’
If approved by the SRA board on Wednesday, the proposals will come into force in November 2016, a year later than originally proposed.
The regulator said it would cease to accredit CPD courses from November 2014. The SRA said it will also issue a toolkit to support the move to the new approach.
Both the Law Society and the Legal Services Consumer Panel have criticised the plans.
Last month Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said that, despite imperfections in the present system, ‘it is not clear to us that the SRA’s solution is the right one’.
He added: ‘At a time when it is almost universally accepted that undertaking CPD is the mark of a professional, the abolition of the requirement may send the wrong signal to employers and clients.’