Solicitors to face new competence checks

updated on 05 August 2022

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Solicitors could face new competence checks as the Legal Services Board (LSB) published fresh expectations for regulators to ensure lawyers stay up to date on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be a solicitor and provide good quality legal services.

The LSB’s “statutory statement of policy on ongoing competence” was published after consumer research found that nearly 90% of people thought legal services regulators should be doing “more to reduce to risk of a lack of competence undermining public trust in the legal system”.  

The new measures are expected to be implemented by January 2024, with regulators required to give progress updates by January 2023. Regulators will need to:

  • set standards of competence;
  • get a better understanding of lawyers’ competence; and
  • set new measures to ensure standards are maintained.

Dr Helen Philips, chair of the LSB said:

“Lawyers have a vital role to play in maintaining the fabric of our democratic society. The public must be able to have confidence that they have the right skills, knowledge and behaviours to protect our interests, enforce our rights and keep us safe. The changes introduced today will mean regulators provide greater assurance that their regulated professionals remain competent throughout their careers, not just when they enter the profession.”  

The LSB plans to “monitor the regulators’ progress and continue to work with the sector to provide consumers with fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.”

In 2016, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) removed the requirement for solicitors to complete 16 hours of continuing, professional development annually. The SRA will have to develop an “evidence-based” approach for checking solicitors’ competence.