Newsletter – December 2021

From the CEO

Are you still competent to be a Costs Lawyer? The Legal Services Board, which oversees the work of the legal regulators, is proposing to change the rules for assessing whether lawyers remain sufficiently knowledgeable and skilful to do their job properly – a concept known as “ongoing competence”. The CLSB will be required to take action to ensure competence is maintained, for example by imposing mandatory training, assessments or reaccreditation at various points throughout a Costs Lawyer’s career. Now is the time to have your say.

Last week, the LSB launched its consultation on ongoing competence. It proposes to issue a policy statement setting out its expectations of the regulators in assuring themselves that lawyers are competent at the point of authorisation and remain so throughout their careers. The LSB’s research has shown that consumers expect robust checks to be in place and think that regulators should adopt more specific measures to ensure ongoing competence. The new policy statement is intended to address this.

Amongst other things, the legal regulators (including the CLSB) will need to:

  • Regularly assess and understand levels of competence within the profession and identify areas where competence should be improved. This will involve collecting information about practitioners’ competency from various sources such as audits, complaints, spot-checks and file reviews, as well as feedback from clients, supervisors, peers and the judiciary.
  • Make appropriate interventions to ensure standards of competence are maintained. Interventions could include things like: engagement with the profession; supporting reflective practice; mandatory training requirements; competence assessments; reaccreditation throughout your career.
  • Take suitable “remedial action” when standards of competence are not met by individuals. Remedial action could include imposing a period of supervised and/or restricted practice, or requiring specific training.

These changes will affect you, your colleagues and your business. The LSB’s consultation says:

“We recognise that introducing new ongoing competence expectations for regulators may result in an increased burden on authorised persons… with greater costs (time and money) and potential impacts on the competitiveness of the sector with other jurisdictions cited as potential results of further requirements.”

The LSB’s consultation closes on 7 March 2022. All practitioners are encouraged to respond.

Kate Wellington


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