Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline. April 2016 – May 2016

7 June 2016

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  • BSB has announced proposals to improve advocacy standards in Youth Court proceedings following research showing the quality of advocacy in the Youth Courts can be poor, with serious consequences for young people. BSB’s proposed actions include setting out competencies Youth Court advocates will be expected to demonstrate during proceedings, providing guidance on those competencies and raising the status of youth advocacy work.
  • BSB has published the Immigration Thematic Review Report ,which summarises the risks in the immigration advice and services market. The report’s themes include barriers to accessing justice, a lack of understanding on clients’ parts as to how the system works and varying standards of service received by clients. The BSB will amend existing projects to address these risks and will implement several new activities to improve clients’ experience of immigration legal services.
  • The Legal Services Board (LSB) has released its Regulatory Standards Report, which shows that the BSB has made “significant improvements” as a regulator since 2012-13. Specific areas in which progress has been made include BSB’s progress in establishing an operational supervision function, progress in putting consumers at the heart of legal regulation, work in embedding its regulatory risk programme and the on-going governance reform programme to enable BSB to make decisions more effectively and efficiently.
  • A new CPD regime for barristers on the Established Practitioner Programme will be in place from January 2017 allowing for greater flexibility for barristers in undertaking their CPD requirements.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

  • FCA’s latest Business Plan has this year focused on culture and governance. In order to promote the right culture and behaviours, and ensure governance and culture contribute to delivering good results for customer, FCA will be expecting firms to have effective governance arrangements in place to identify risks and strategies for mitigating those risks.
  • In the area of wealth management, FCA has completed three separate phases of work over the past six years, culminating in the Thematic Report published in December 2015. FCA expects all firms to take the findings of the report on board and will be visiting a number of firms at the end of the year to see what action they have taken.

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

  • FRC has published reports on audit quality reviews of the six largest audit firms. Those reports highlight the principal findings of the 2015/16 reviews of BDO, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton, KPMG and PwC. The FRC’s report’s focus is on promoting continuous improvement in audit quality and FRC has asked firms to carry out a root cause analysis into each of FRC’s key findings before developing proposed actions.
  • FRC has published its Plan & Budget for 2016/17. FRC will invest in its new role as Competent Authority for audit regulation under the EU Audit Regulation and Directive which will commence in June 2016. FRC will also focus on good practice in corporate culture, promoting effective engagement between investors and companies and clear and concise corporate reporting. It will also aim to update FRC’s suite of actuarial technical standards.
  • FRC has issued guidance for directors of companies, bringing together the requirements of company law, accounting standards, auditing standards, other regulation and existing FRC guidance. The guidance aims to assist directors of companies that do not apply the UK Corporate Governance Code in assessing the going concern of accounting, material uncertainties, solvency and liquidity risk, the periods of assessment and the relevant disclosure requirements.

General Dental Council (GDC)

  • Having decided to cease publishing the full address details of dental professionals on the public register, GDC is now seeking views on the details that should be included on the register. It presents two options: the first is to publish the name and registration of the dental professional and the second is to publish the name, registration number and town of where the dental professional is registered. As part of the consultation process, GDC will be speaking to its 5,000 strong patient panel, patient groups, dental professionals’ representatives and other key stakeholders.
  • Following online feedback received by GDC which highlighted the stress of interacting with the fitness to practise process, Jonathan Green, Director of Fitness to Practise, has released a statement regarding support provided during fitness to practise proceedings. He notes that GDC has worked with Samaritans to train GDC staff to ensure they have the right skills to recognise where individuals involved in fitness to practise proceedings may need additional support and, crucially, to ensure those individuals feel able to speak with GDC staff about any support they may need.

General Medical Council (GMC)

  • Following a review of the cosmetic industry in England carried out by Sir Bruce Keogh, which highlighted risks associated with cosmetic interventions, GMC has released guidance for doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures. The guidance makes clear the ethical obligations doctors have towards patients and the standards of care they need to provide. Additionally, the guidance sets out that doctors must advertise and market services responsibly, give patients time for reflection and seek a patient’s consent themselves.
  • Following a public consultation the GMC will introduce time limits on how long it publishes information about doctors who have faced sanctions following fitness to practise investigations. From early 2017, information about doctors who have had conditions on their registration, or a suspension of up to three months, will be available for 10 years. The time limit for suspensions of over three months will be 15 years. Information about a doctor who has been struck off will be published for 10 years and should they be restored, the fact that they were once erased will be published. Where restrictions on registration are imposed on the grounds of health concerns, this information will be removed from the doctor’s public record when restrictions are lifted.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • GPhC is seeking views of the public and pharmacy professionals on proposed new standards for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the United Kingdom. The consultation will seek feedback on nine core standards that all pharmacy professionals will have to meet and it will run for 12 weeks closing on 27 June 2016. The proposed standards were developed following a national discussion with a wide variety of stakeholders on patient-centred professionalism in pharmacy.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • HCPC has published its 2015 Education annual report, providing an overview and analysis of the key trends in HCPC’s approval and monitoring processes during the 2014-15 academic year. The report showed sufficient evidence of continuing to meet HCPC’s standards of education and training.

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)

  • IFoA hosted its second Asia Conference in Kuala Lumpur on 3 and 4 March this year. The event’s theme was “Celebrating Diversity, Creating Value” and over 370 professionals from across 20 countries attended. IFoA announced at the Conference that it is expanding its Actuarial Research Centre to become a ground breaking virtual network of actuarial researchers and partner organisations from around the world, which will sponsor and deliver innovative research on behalf of the IFoA.
  • IFoA has made changes to its criteria for awarding Practising Certificates. Applicants no longer need to demonstrate three months’ experience of work reserved for a certificate holder in the 12 months preceding the date of application. Instead, a successful applicant must demonstrate that he/she has gained three months’ experience of work reserved for a certificate holder in the last 18 months.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • Revalidation for all nurses and midwives came into effect on 1 April 2016, requiring every person on the NMC register to demonstrate on a regular basis that they are able to deliver care in a safe, effective and professional way. Nurses and midwives will have to show they are staying up to date with their professional practice and living the values of their professional code by seeking feedback from patients and colleagues, as well as engaging in a regular process of reflection, learning and improvement.
  • In April the Department of Health launched its consultation on changes to the NMC’s legal framework. NMC has welcomed the consultation, which sets out proposed changes designed to modernise midwifery regulation by removing supervision from the legislation. The proposed changes will also allow NMC to improve on its methods of dealing with those who fall below the required standards expected of nurses and midwives. Finally, the consultation proposes seven new changes relating to the fitness to practise function. If agreed, the new powers will allow NMC to conclude some cases against nurses and midwives earlier on in the process while still taking the most serious cases through to a hearing.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • SRA has produced a review on anti-money laundering (AML), specifically how law firms deal with the risks of money laundering. Its results, based on visits to more than 250 firms,  show that law firms are generally well set to deal with such risks. Areas that SRA’s report identified as requiring improvement included ensuring training was properly embedded, having appropriate cover for the Money Laundering Reporting Officer and making sure AML systems and controls are both tested and updated.
  • In May the SRA published research showing that although the legal sector is increasingly diverse, there is still work to be done. The evidence shows that, on the surface, the solicitor profession is diverse, particularly on gender (47% women) and ethnicity (18% BAME – Black and Asian Minority Ethnic). However, delving deeper the research revealed there are still gaps for some groups. For example, a disproportionate number of lawyers (22%) attended fee paying schools, people who identified as disabled (3%) are still under-represented, black groups are under-represented (2%) while Asian groups (12%) are over-represented and BAME lawyers are twice as likely to work at smaller firms than larger firms. Additionally, while women make up around half of all lawyers, only 33% are partners, with even fewer female partners (27%) in large firms. Finally, the research showed that 3% of solicitors identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual as compared with 5-7% of the wider population.

Please contact Esther Bennett for further information.


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