Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline – February 2016 - March 2016

1 April 2016

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  • BSB publishes responses to the Future Bar Training consultation – the BSB published on 1 February 2016 a summary of the initial responses to its consultation launched in the summer of 2015 on the academic, vocational and pupillage requirements to become qualified as a barrister. Fifty-eight responses were received. The BSB expects to establish a preferred approach in the summer of 2016, and there will be a further public consultation in late 2016.
  • BSB announces changes to the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) for 2016 and 2017 – the BSB published on 9 March 2016 its review into the role of BCAT. Amongst other changes, the BCAT pass mark will increase, subject to approval by the Legal Services Board. The purpose of increasing the pass mark is to exclude students who are not likely to succeed in the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
  • BSB launches consultation on the Professional Statement threshold standard and competences – the competences are designed to make sure users of legal services receive a consistently high standard of service (if they are a client) or interaction with a barrister (if they are a witness or a litigant-in-person). The consultation began on 14 March 2016 and closes on 5 June 2016.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

  • Senior Managers Regime and Certification Regime (SMACR) in effect on 7 March 2016 – the SMACR, applicable to UK banks, building societies, credit unions and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)-designated investment firms, and branches of foreign banks operating in the UK, came into effect on 7 March 2016. The new regime aims to increase the individual accountability of senior managers in the banking sector. It is the biggest change to UK banking regulation since the global financial crisis. 
  • Bank of England and Financial Services Bill (the Bill) progresses through parliament – the Bill has been considered by the House of Commons in February 2016 and has not yet completed the necessary legislative stages in Parliament. The Bill is intended to, amongst other things, expand the scope of and make changes to the SMACR. The Bill should receive Royal Assent in the summer of 2016.
  • FCA permanent CEO announced – HM Treasury announced on 26 January 2016 the appointment of Andrew Bailey as the new permanent CEO of the FCA. Mr Bailey, the current Deputy Governor for Prudential Regulation at the Bank of England and CEO of the PRA, will replace the interim CEO, Tracey McDermott. He is expected to take up the role in July 2016.
  • FCA seeks clarity on approvals required for legal function under the Senior Managers Regime – the FCA announced on 27 January 2016 that it will be considering whether an individual in charge of a firm's legal function requires approval under the Senior Managers Regime. The FCA has set out plans to consult in this area later this year.
  • FCA notifies the European Banking Authority (EBA) about its approach to remuneration guidelines – the FCA (along with the PRA) informed the EBA on 29 February 2016 that it will comply with the EBA Guidelines on Sound Remuneration Policies, except for the bonus cap provision that the limit on awarding variable remuneration to 100% of fixed remuneration, or 200% with shareholder approval.
  • FCA publishes policy development update – the FCA published on 4 March 2016 issue 31 of its policy development update. This includes information about recent FCA publications and gives a timetable for forthcoming publications.
  • FCA indicates how it is applying the Senior Managers Regime to itself – the FCA has, following the coming into effect of the Senior Managers Regime on 7 March 2016, announced how it is applying the principles of the Senior Managers Regime to its own staff.
  • FCA publishes occasional paper on "Economics for Effective Regulation" ("EFER") – the FCA published on 10 March 2016 occasional paper No. 13 on EFER. This paper discusses how EFER, as a methodology for regulatory economic analysis, can help the FCA meet its strategic objective to "make the relevant markets work well".

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

  • FRC highlights role of Engagement Quality Control Reviewer (EQCR) in overall audit quality – the FRC on 8 February 2016 issued a thematic review undertaken by its Audit Quality Review (AQR) team on the work performed by EQCR in the audit of financial statements. The FRC found that firms need to do more to evaluate the effectiveness of the engagement quality review and for firms to require EQCRs to obtain formal feedback on their performance.
  • FRC notes Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation on the UK implementation of the EU Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information – the FRC has on 16 February 2016 drawn attention to a BIS consultation on the EU Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. The Directive introduces EU-wide disclosure requirements for environmental, social, employee, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters, and board diversity. The consultation is open until 15 April 2016. Following the outcome of the consultation, the FRC will consider any consequential amendments to the Guidance on the Strategic Report to reflect any changes in regulation.
  • FRC joins UK Regulators Network (UKRN) – the FRC joined on 22 February 2016 the UKRN (a body representing some of the UK’s economic regulators).

General Dental Council (GDC)

  • GDC consults on its plans to reform fitness to practise – the GDC has on 1 February 2016 issued a consultation on its plans to modernise its fitness to practise process. The GDC hopes that by introducing Case Examiners, complaints will be dealt with more quickly and efficiently thereby making the process easier for patients and less stressful for dentists or dental care professionals (DCPs).
  • GDC publishes its improvement plan following whistleblowing report – the GDC published on 16 February 2016 an improvement plan following an investigation into a whistleblowing incident by the Professional Standards Authority. Proposed changes include improvements to the fitness to practise processes, leadership and to the organisational culture. 
  • GDC gives English language guidance – the GDC has on 14 March 2016 provided details about how it will check the English language proficiency of dentists and DCPs applying to the register. These checks follow changes to the Dentists Act 1984 and will apply to all dentists and DCPs, including those from the European Economic Area. There will be a further announcement when the GDC’s new powers come into force on 1 April 2016.

General Medical Council (GMC)

  • GMC commissions review on revalidation – the GMC has on 9 March 2016 commissioned a review of revalidation. Revalidation is the process by which all licensed doctors are required to demonstrate on a regular basis that they are up to date and fit to practise in their chosen field and able to provide a good level of care. The review will be published by the end of 2016.
  • GMC announces changes to its assessment for international doctors wanting to work in the UK – the GMC has on 16 March 2016 confirmed changes to the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test following recommendations from an independent review it commissioned.  In future, doctors will be required to undergo a broader knowledge test and a more thorough practical assessment, which is meant to reflect real life consultations in the UK health system. Doctors will also face a limit on the number of times they can sit the new test and a limit of two years to apply for a licence to practise in the UK after passing.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • GPhC publishes a report from a roundtable discussion about pre-registration pharmacist education and training in England – the GPhC on 26 February 2016 published details of a meeting held on 3 February 2016, convened to discuss work already underway to improve pre-registration pharmacist training and further actions that could be taken.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • HCPC publishes report on approved mental health professional (AMHP) training in England – the HCPC published on 17 February 2016 a report on its work in assessing AMHP programmes in the academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15. The report considers how the HCPC’s regulatory model has affected AMHP training.
  • HCPC begins consultation on draft standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists to sell, supply and administer medicine – the HCPC has on 8 March 2016 begun a consultation on draft standards for the use of medicines exemptions by orthoptists. If the proposals set out in the consultation document are accepted, the HCPC would: set standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists; annotate the Register entries of orthoptists who are qualified to use the exemptions; and, approve post-registration programmes delivering relevant training. The consultation closes on 3 May 2016.

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)

  • IFoA review of education strategy – the IFoA is currently reviewing the qualifications, syllabus and assessment methods required to become an actuary. Once the review is complete, a revised education strategy will be outlined at the June 2016 IFoA Council meeting.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • NMC responds to new patient safety measures announced by the Secretary of State for Health – the NMC has responded on 9 March 2016 to the Secretary of State for Health’s plans to improve safety and transparency within the NHS. The NMC welcomes the direction of travel outlined in the package of measures.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • SRA agrees change to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) – the SRA Board agreed on 9 March 2016 amendments to the QASA. QASA will introduce a common set of advocacy standards against which the competence of all advocates can be measured and judged. All advocates will need to demonstrate their competence against all of the standards to gain their QASA accreditation.


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