New CPD Regulations

The following is based on the information provided by the SRA and focusses on the main areas of concern but we would always advise reading the SRA’s website in full.

The SRA has changed its form of CPD to be based on continuing competence with the emphasis being on the process and effect of learning activities rather than the inputs based system of CPD which is hours based. Solicitors are expected to review their learning needs and address them through CPD activities. They are then asked to reflect on the learning and look at ways they can incorporate this into their practice. This should, in turn, lead to a further review of any other learning needs.

The new system came into effect from 1 November 2016. Up until 1 November 2016, all solicitors must comply with the SRA’s continuing professional development requirements or continuing competence requirements.

The SRA have set out in their guidance the process they expect solicitors to undertake. You will need to:

  • Reflecton your practice to identify any learning needs.
  • Plan how you will address your learning needs, identifying suitable CPD learning activities and how you will carry them out.
  • Complete the CPD learning activities.
  • Evaluate how the CPD learning activity has met the learning need you identified and how you can incorporate the new knowledge and skills into your practice.
  • Record how you have carried out this process. The record demonstrates that you have taken steps to ensure your ongoing competence. You may wish to use the SRA based forms which we have reproduced and can be found by clicking here.
  • Make an annual declarationto confirm that you have completed the process outlined above.

Each year you will need to make an SRA Annual Declaration, as you do currently. The wording for this is: ‘I have reflected on my practice and addressed any identified learning and development needs.’

You will need to keep the records of your planning and completion of activities so that you can provide them to the SRA, should they require them. The SRA may ask for these records and it is good practice to keep these records for six years.

If you identify a learning need that is a significant risk to being able to deliver a proper standard of service, you should endeavour to address this as soon as possible, and it should be addressed by the time of the annual declaration. Any additional needs that have arisen over the course of the declaration year should be addressed as soon as possible.

Whilst there are no set number of hours of CPD learning activity that you must complete the SRA make it clear that they expect CPD learning activities to be considered and carried out where appropriate for your areas of practice. And to demonstrate that you have carried out this process and have kept adequate records to provide to the SRA if required. You must also still make an annual declaration, as outlined above.

In the context of the continuing competence requirements, a CPD learning activity is anything which you undertake outside of the requirements of your usual job role in order to meet learning and development needs. An activity is considered valid so long as you can demonstrate that it contributes to maintaining your competence.