113th CPR Update – Witness Statements & Statements of Truth

The latest amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) were announced back in January 2020 and included some important changes in regards to Witnesses, Witness Statements and Statements of Truth.

Various aspects of the changes came into force between 31 March and 6 April 2020, and so it is critical that you, your team, and your law firm are all compliant.

The full text of the 113th update to the Practice Directions can be found on the justice.gov.uk website.

CPR Update Statement of Truth

Both Witness Statements and Statements of Case (Particulars of Claim, Defences etc.) must now be dated with the actual date signed and include new standard text with a contempt of court warning. This warning advises that proceedings for contempt of court can be brought against anyone who provides a statement of truth without having an honest belief in its truthfulness.

Another key change provides clarity to what is a valid witness statement in the scenario where a witness's first language is not English.

In this instance, the witness statement and it's statement of truth must be in the witness's own language along with stating how the statement it has been drafted by the lawyer (over the telephone, in person, via an interpreter etc.).

There are many more changes included in the 113th CPR update in relation to statements, so you should therefore take steps to familiarise yourself with the full requirements for now drafting a Civil Procedure Rules compliant witness statement.

Online Witness Statement Training

To assist, we have recently updated our Drafting a Witness Statement online course to include the relevant changes introduced by the 113th CPR update alongside the best practices of drafting effective witness statements.

Please take a look at our course overview or email us to discuss multiple licence purchases for your team.

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PSC Core face-to-face training is going online

With the recent sharp increase in law firm employees working from home, we are now saying Yes! to lots of enquiries about taking our traditional face-to-face courses online.

We are now even able to provide online training options for the Professional Skills Course (PSC) core modules, for which face-to-face delivery is normally required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Early last week we put together a detailed application to allow us to go online with our PSC Client Care & Professional Standards and Advocacy & Communication Skills training. With the courts and witnesses already operating online, this is the right time to offer convenient e-learning that builds the right skills.

PSC Core Training Online

The Professional Skills Course is the last stage of the compulsory training requirement in qualifying to become a solicitor. Taking the PSC core modules and electives is mandatory for trainee solicitors or those using it as part of their qualification route as a Chartered Legal Executive (CILEx). However the core elements can usually only be delivered via instructor led face-to-face training.

As such we were excited to learn first thing on Friday 20 March that our application to run our Client Care & Professional Standards course online was granted with no quibbles, no buts. Great news for all our existing PSC clients and a big thank you to Bally Sandhu at the SRA for the lightning fast response.

We have also now had confirmation that we can deliver the PSC Advocacy & Communication Skills module. A much trickier delivery proposition for obvious reasons, but we have the technology and our small team of tutors are the best out there.

Remember you can still use our PSC accredited e-learning for up to 12 hours of PSC Electives.

 

If you would like more details on our range of Professional Skills Courses, please take a look at our course directory or contact us to discuss our new online offerings.

Get ready for your Online PSC Courses
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What is the new SQE? (Solicitors Qualifying Examination)

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a brand-new set of exams which is scheduled to be introduced from 2021 that aspiring solicitors will need to complete.

The SQE is intended to become the common assessment for all those wishing to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It is set to become the biggest change to legal education for decades – replacing the current Graduate Diploma in Law, Legal Practice Course and traditional training contract requirement.

After 2021 there will be a new path to qualify as a solicitor, namely candidates will have to:

  1. Have an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification (i.e. a degree level apprenticeship) in any subject.
  2. Complete Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination.
    1. SQE Stage 1 deals with general legal knowledge via multiple-choice assessments.
    2. SQE Stage 2 focuses on evaluating practical legal skills.
  3. Have completed two years’ suitable qualifying legal work experience.
  4. Pass the current character and suitability requirements.
  5. Apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

What is the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination?

How is the SQE different to the current process?

To recap, currently a qualifying law degree such as a ‘Law LLB (Hons)’, or a degree in another subject followed by the Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course, is required as a prerequisite before being able to start the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

On completion of the LPC, aspiring solicitors must complete a two-year training contract. The Professional Skills Course (PSC) must be completed during the training contract. Once the LPC, training contract and PSC have been completed a trainee solicitor can apply to be admitted as a solicitor.

Under the new SQE regime candidates can have any undergraduate degree (or equivalent qualification). They will need to pass SQE 1 and 2 exams but there won’t be a specific course they must follow. And the two-year training contract will be replaced with a two-year period of qualifying work experience (QWE). This can be completed before, during or after the solicitors qualifying exams and with up to four different organisations. The QWE can include periods of unpaid work such as working in student law clinics or working for Citizens Advice.

When is the SQE coming in?

The current SQE launch date is estimated to be in September 2021. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is currently piloting the key components of the exams, with the SQE1 pilot being completed in July 2019 and SQE2 pilot in December 2019.

Once the SRA has gathered feedback from candidates, they intend to publish their findings and update the launch date as needed.

When the SQE is launched it is also anticipated that there will be a period of transition. Students who have already started on the current qualification path will be able to choose to continue on this route. This includes anyone who has accepted an offer to start a law degree or the GDL by the time the SQE is introduced. New entrants will follow the SQE regime.

Preparing for the SQE

As further specific information on the Solicitors Qualifying Examination programme is confirmed, Kinch Robinson are preparing extensive training and learning materials to support individual candidates and law firm training programmes.

So make sure you follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for the latest developments and our course announcements.

Should your law firm be in the early stages of planning for the SQE for your lawyers, please feel free to contact us on how we can assist.

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StaRs is here – introducing our new e-learning course

The SRA’s new Standard and Regulations came into force on 25 November 2019.

Do you know what’s changed?

Lots of the duties are similar to the old 2011 Code of Conduct but there’s some significant changes too.

You need to make sure that all your team know what the new requirements are:

  • the amended core principles
  • the impact on their day-to-day work
  • the new information they need to tell your clients

And there’s a brand new duty to ‘demonstrate your compliance with your regulatory obligations’.

So every solicitor needs to know what those obligations are.

Take a look at our new SRA Standards and Regulations e-learning course if you’re looking for:

  • a cost-effective method of training your staff
  • a resource that can be used as an ongoing reference tool
  • a solution that includes tracking so you can demonstrate compliance
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Introducing the SRA Standards and Regulations

Two new Codes of Conduct

On 25 November 2019 the SRA Standards and Regulations will replace the SRA Handbook. There will be seven Principles instead of ten, and two codes of conduct, one for Individuals and one for Firms. They are much shorter than the current Code of Conduct. Whilst they adopt most of its key themes, they abandon its approach based on Outcomes and Indicative Behaviours. Instead the new codes focus on lawyers and firms using their professional judgement and justifying their actions.  “Nothing new there” you might think, “we can carry on as normal”. You would be wrong.

Big changes for every lawyer

There’s a significant change of emphasis because of a new duty to demonstrate compliance with your regulatory obligations. Just how are you going to do that for every tricky decision you make every day of the week?

Other changes include:

  • A new principle of honesty – how does it work alongside the principle of integrity?
  • A new duty not to waste the court’s time.
  • Reinforced duties for supervisors in relation to the work and competence of their teams.
  • Changes to the exceptions to the duty of disclosure to clients.
  • Reporting obligations which may (or may not) be satisfied by notifying your COLP.
  • A new duty to take remedial action if a client suffers loss or harm when things go wrong – What kind of action will be appropriate?
  • A time limit for providing prescribed information to clients when a complaint has not been resolved to their satisfaction.

E-learning for busy lawyers

In October we will release our e-learning course on the new SRA Standards and Regulations, with an introduction and three short modules, one on the Principles and one on each new Code. They will focus on what you need to know, not on what you don’t.  You’ll learn enough to stay compliant, and know where to look when things get tricky.   Like all our e-learning this course is quick, relevant and engaging.

Contact

Get in touch if you’d like a sneak preview, a heads-up when we launch or if you want to discuss options for hosting the course on your own LMS.

Email: Kath@kinchrobinson.com
Phone: Kath on 0114 273 8300.

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