Training for Tomorrow: Changes to the SRA Training Regulations

Summary of the major changes

1 July 2014

On 1 July 2014, the SRA Training Regulations 2014 - Qualification and Provider Regulations replaced the SRA Training Regulations 2011 Parts 1 and 2. These regulations deal with education and training requirements up to the point of admission as a solicitor.

For detailed information about the changes, please see our information packs and Q&A documents:

In this summary document, we highlight changes we have made. Although we have not changed the basic qualification and training requirements for qualification as a solicitor (i.e. QLD/CPE, LPC, two years of training and PSC), we have removed some processes and procedures.

Removal of the Certificate of Academic Standing, CPE eligibility and exemptions

To be eligible to commence the CPE/GDL, an individual must have a first degree from a UK university. However, we recognise that applicants may have prior study or relevant experience through which they can demonstrate that they have reached the required level of ability to succeed on the course. Alternatively the applicant may have a qualification obtained in a different jurisdiction. In these cases, we have issued Certificates of Academic Standing.

Under the new regulations, those with overseas degrees and non-standard qualifications will no longer apply to us for a certificate of academic standing before being eligible to enrol on the CPE/GDL. Instead, the CPE provider will assess an international qualification by reference to UK NARIC. UK NARIC provides information and advice about how qualifications gained outside the UK compare with UK qualifications. We will continue to assess the eligibility of mature students.

Previously, all requests for partial and full exemption from the CPE were made directly to us.

Now that all CPE providers are regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, we consider that a more streamlined process is for the individual seeking partial exemption from the CPE to apply directly to the CPE provider when they apply for a place on the course. Applications for full exemption from the CPE should be made directly to the SRA on the appropriate form.

Providers will assess prior learning (both certificated and experiential) according to their policies on accreditation of prior learning. Note that each provider will have its own AP(e)L policies and procedures on this, and anyone who thinks that they may be eligible should contact their CPE/GDL provider.

The regulation that required students to complete the CPE with one provider, unless there were exceptional circumstances, has been removed. We have also removed the restriction on the minimum number of exemptions permitted. We have not specified a maximum: that is something to be determined by the provider's own AP(e)L policies and assessment regulations.

Removal of the Certificate of Completion of the Academic Stage

Completion by an individual of the academic stage of training, before commencing the vocational stage of training, is one of the requirements for admission as a solicitor. We previously assessed this on an individual basis and issued a Certificate of Completion of the Academic Stage. The 2014 Regulations reflect a more proportionate way of dealing with this matter, by requiring the individual to satisfy the Legal Practice Course (LPC) provider that they have met the academic requirements for admission. We will no longer issue a completion of academic stage certificate.

Student enrolment, and character and suitability

Student enrolment with the SRA is no longer required prior to the commencement of the LPC. We therefore no longer require the payment of a fee of £80.

We do, however, require disclosure to us of issues relating to character and suitability before a trainee commences a period of recognised training, and again on admission as a solicitor. If an individual does have character and suitability issues to assess, they should apply to us at least six months before they start training, to avoid any delays. Training cannot commence until the assessment has taken place.

Students who have character and suitability issues may want an early assessment, before they embark on the CPE or LPC, and we have retained the power to undertake these early assessments.

Flexibility in recognising relevant prior learning through the introduction of equivalent means

The 2011 Regulations set out a number of permitted exceptions and exemptions from some stages of the qualification pathway. Over time we granted certain block exemptions for individuals who have completed specified education and training requirements of other legal regulators or professional bodies. This comprised Chartered Legal Executives and Graduates of CILEx, Justices' Clerks' Assistants, Morgenbesser applicants and Mature Students.

We have retained these exemptions, and will continue to recognise them under the 2014 Regulations.

However, the Training Regulations 2014 allow us to recognise that the knowledge and skills outcomes (and the standard at which they must be acquired) may have been achieved by an individual through other assessed learning and work based learning: where this is the case, we may grant exemption from all or part of the academic or vocational stages.

For example, we may agree that an individual has, through a different course of assessed learning or work-based experiential learning, met the outcomes required on Stage 2 of the Legal Practice Course and so grant exemption from this stage.

We call this assessed learning and work-based experiential learning 'equivalent means'.

Training contract and period of recognised training

For any training which commences on or after 1 July 2014, we no longer require training to be completed under the terms of a specified SRA training contract. Instead, our regulation focuses on the scope and standard of training. Training entered into under the 2011 Regulations (i.e. under the terms of an SRA specified training contract) will remain subject to the 2011 Regulations, unless both the trainee and the training provider agree that training should continue according to the 2014 Regulations. Where this is the case, we should be notified on the appropriate form.

Under the Training Regulations 2011, we required training providers to register a training contract with us. We have removed this requirement, and instead, training providers must notify us that in relation to any particular trainee, a period of recognised training will commence.

We no longer specify the different modes of training. The different modes are now catered for by a pro rata requirement for part time trainees.

The training provider no longer needs to apply to us to terminate training. This is now to be determined between the provider and trainee.

If at any time we are not satisfied that a trainee has received, or is receiving, adequate training, we may refuse to recognise all or any part of the training undertaken, require further training, or impose any condition, or take any other action that we consider necessary.

We may also revoke authorised training provider status or grant continued authorisation subject to conditions where the authorised training provider has not complied with the Regulations or our requirements.

Training principal

The Training Principal may be either a practising barrister or a solicitor. A solicitor is no longer required to have four consecutive Practising Certificates to be eligible to be a Training Principal.

Training requirements

We have removed the reference to contentious and non-contentious experience. We have not changed the scope of the training we require, but the skills and knowledge gained in work of this type will be achieved if a trainee meets the Practice Skills Standards.

There is no longer a restriction on the number of trainees that a provider can take.

Training providers must still pay their trainees at least the minimum salary prescribed by us until 31 July 2014. From 1 August 2014, they must pay at least the single hourly rate of the national minimum wage, specified in Regulation 11 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations.

Disputes between training providers and trainees

For training which commences on or after 1 July 2014, we no longer participate, either directly or by appointing a conciliator, in the resolution of disputes between training providers and trainees.

Professional Skills Course

We no longer specify when the Professional Skills Course must be completed, but we do issue guidance that it is best completed during a period of recognised training.

Background to the changes: Regulation review consultation

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