Solicitors have a regulatory requirement to provide a proper standard of service. To do this, they will need to reflect on their practice and undertake regular learning and development so that their skills and knowledge remain up to date. We take this requirement seriously and solicitors will be required to make an annual declaration that they have done this.
This information is for solicitors and employers of solicitors (particularly those with responsibility for learning and development or responsibility for completion of the Practising Certificate Renewal Exercise (PCRE)) and provides detail on:
- the wording of the annual declaration
- how to complete the annual declaration
- when the annual declaration needs to be made
- what happens if a solicitor does not make a declaration or informs us that they have not met the requirements of our new approach.
Wording of the declaration
All solicitors will need to make the following declaration:
"I have reflected on my practice and addressed any identified learning and development needs."
Guidance on the reflection process is contained in our continuing competence toolkit.
How to complete the annual declarationThe declaration can be made using the following PCRE forms: RF1RB, RF1RSP, RF1NRE and RF3R. Either individual solicitors, or entities who complete the PCRE on behalf of solicitors they employ, can make the declaration in the relevant section of these forms.
When to make the declaration
All solicitors must move to the new approach from 1 November 2016. The following:
2017 PCRE: The declaration will be moved so that solicitors are making a declaration relating to the current (rather than previous) practice year. All solicitors will make the new declaration. This can either be individually or by their employer.
What we will do with the information provided?
Under our new approach, we will monitor PCRE forms to identify those solicitors who have not confirmed to us that they have reflected on their practice and addressed identified learning and development needs.
We will use this information, in combination with other information we hold or receive about an individual or regulated entity, to explore concerns that we may have with the competence or standard of service provided by a solicitor. Where we identify a concern, we may decide to engage with an individual or entity.
Do I need to make a declaration for activity undertaken during 2015/16?
No declaration is required in 2017 for learning and development carried out during the 15/16 CPD year.
From 1 November 2016, all solicitors will have adopted our approach to continuing competence and will make an annual declaration in 2017 that they have reflected on the quality of their practice and addressed identified learning needs. We do not consider it necessary for solicitors to make a declaration in October 2017 based on historical learning and development undertaken in practice year 2015-16. This does not remove the regulatory responsibility for all solicitors either to comply with the old approach by doing 16 hours CPD or to adopt the new approach and undertake the training and development activity needed to stay up to date and competent to practise. We still expect that a record will be retained.