Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline. June 2016 – July 2016

2 August 2016

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  • The BSB is preparing to begin authorising Alternative Business Structures (ABS) later this year subject to the Lord Chancellor’s approval. The BSB is seeking ABS’ to participate in a pilot programme to assist with preparation of this, the BSB are seeking participants to contact them by 31 July 2016. Extending the regulation to ABS’ (also known as "licensed bodies") will allow BSB to regulate businesses which are owned by both lawyers and non-lawyers
  • The BSB will be writing to every multi-tenant chambers across the country to seek their help in improving compliance with the Equality rules following the BSB recent survey of women at the Bar. The report found a number of examples of good practice and clear evidence of progress in some areas.  It also found that the experiences of women at the Bar are significantly better in chambers where the policies which the Equality Rules require have been put in place following proper consultation and where everyone is aware of them. The three key areas for improvement were identified as unfair treatment, reporting unfair treatment and lack of compliance with the Equality Rules.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

  • The FCA has published its thematic review into ‘dark pools’ which are trading venues with no pre trade transparency where the price and volume of orders are hidden and anonymous. The FCA found that firms operating dark pools have made significant improvements in addressing the promotion and the management of conflicts of interest. The FCA review focused solely on the UK market which has some key differences from other markets or regions.  In particular the UK and US vary significantly, especially as to best execution, and behaviours seen in other markets have not been evident in the FCA’s review
  • In the area of the general insurance sector the FCA has published a thematic review demonstrating significant shortcomings in the control and oversight of appointed representatives by their principal firms. Appointed representatives undertake regulated activities under the supervision of an authorised firm who acts as their principal. The principal firm has regulatory responsibility for the appointed representative and generally, in the regulatory context, anything that the appointed representative has done or omitted to do is treated as having been done or omitted to be done by the principal firm itself.

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

  • The FRC has published its annual report for 2015/16 which outlines its financial position, achievements, and challenges last year. In addition the report also includes the 2016/19 strategy in accordance with the new corporate governance principles. The FRC acknowledges that having strengthened the regulatory landscape over the past three years, there is still a way to go in securing further improvements.
  • The FRC has published its Developments in Audit: An Overview 2015/16 report which is the first report of its kind for the FRC as the UK’s Competent Authority for audit. The FRC believes there is a justifiably higher level of confidence in audit as a result of changes to independence requirements and the promotion of quality as a driver for competition in the audit market.

General Dental Council (GDC)

  • The GDC publishes its Annual Report and Accounts for 2015. The last 12 months saw the organisation undertake a fundamental review of how it is run. By making significant changes to the structure and its processes – with further changes to come - and through improved performance, it is striving to become a more effective and efficient regulator.
  • The GDC publishes ‘guidance on the duty of candour’ for dental professionals. The guidance is intended to encourage dental professionals to apologise where the care of a patient has fallen below the standard they should expect. Ian Brack, Chief Executive of the GDC said; “The duty of candour was a recommendation for all health regulators following the landmark report published by Robert Francis in 2013 as a way of making healthcare more open and transparent when things go wrong.’’

General Medical Council (GMC)

  • The GMC has launched two pilot schemes to speed up fitness to practice cases and reduce their impact on doctors. The first pilot will involve cases where doctors are alleged to have made a one off mistake involving poor clinical care. Instead of opening a full investigation the GMC will first gather a few pieces of key information about the case, such as medical records and incident reports. Only after reviewing this evidence will the GMC decide whether to open a full investigation, refer the matter to the doctor’s Responsible Officer, or close it with no further action. The second pilot implements the recommendations of Sir Anthony Hooper’s review of the GMC. A designated body such as an NHS organisation or independent healthcare providers is required to disclose to the GMC if the doctor being complained about has previously raised any patient safety issues. The person referring the concerns will also have to make a declaration that the complaint is being made in good faith, and that steps have been taken to make sure it is fair and accurate. This will assist the GMC to assess whether a full investigation is necessary, and will help to reduce the risk of doctors who have acted as whistle-blowers subsequently being disadvantaged.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • The GPhC has published ‘Demonstrating professionalism online’ a guidance note which sets out what is expected of Pharmacists when using social media. It is expected that pharmacy professionals have the same responsibilities and obligations when interacting online as they do when interacting face-to-face. It highlights risks that need to be managed and sets out ‘do’s and don’ts’ when using social media.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • The HCPC has published its 2015-16 Annual Reports and Accounts. A key achievement for the HCPC in 2015 was updating the revised standards of conduct, performance and ethics. The standards are a clear and visible commitment to members of the public of what they can expect from health and care professionals.

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)

  • The IFoA has published Revised Standard: APS D1: Investment Related Business Activities for Authorised Professional Firms. Version 3.0 and will take effect from 1 July 2016. The new guidance document has been updated to include the following changes; changed references to the “Professional Regulation Executive Committee (PREC)” to its successor body the “Regulation Board”, changed references to the “Financial Services Authority (FSA)” to its successor body the “Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)”.
  • The IFoA announces that 500 members have now been awarded the prestigious Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) which means they are able to assess and manage the entire risk spectrum of an organisation including financial, operational and strategic risk.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • The NMC is amending the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for nurses and midwives coming onto the register from overseas within the EEA. Under the previous system, applicants had to achieve the IELTS Academic Test Level 7 in reading, writing, speaking and listening in a single sitting. A Level 7 in all areas will still be required, but this can now be achieved over two sittings of the tests. Both tests must be within six months of each other and no single score must be below 6.5 in any of the areas across both tests.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • The SRA has launched a consultation on ‘Looking to the future programme’. The SRA has proposed to increase access to legal services by removing unnecessary bureaucracy and freeing solicitors up to work in new markets. The significant change appears to be the introduction of two separate codes—a Code of Conduct for Solicitors and a Code of Conduct for Firms. These replace detailed and prescriptive requirements with a framework for competent and ethical practice.
  • The SRA has published detailed guidance on the new ‘Continuing Competence’ regime which will replace the old CPD 'hours' regime from 1 November 2016. The SRA have produced webinars and a ‘toolkit’ to prepare for the change to include, reflection on a Solicitors practice to identify your learning and development needs and recording and evaluating a Solicitors learning and development activity.

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