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What are new CPD rules for solicitors, OISC advisers and barristers?


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New CPD rules are being introduced for solicitors and barristers in England and Wales and OISC advisers across the UK. The new rules are broadly similar in nature but start at different times, so it is important to know which rules apply when. At the end of the blog post you can see how Free Movement can help you meet your training needs.


New CPD rules have applied to solicitors on an optional basis since April 2015. Some other changes to the old CPD scheme were also introduced with immediate effect. The new scheme is mandatory from 1 November 2016. You can read about the changes on the SRA website here.

Until 31 October 2016 solicitors can still satisfy their professional CPD needs by completing 16 hours of training. The changes so far are that the old system of accredited training providers was dropped, so that a solicitor can now receive training from anybody, and the need for some of the training to be face to face was also dropped, so that all training can potentially be received online.

From 1 November 2016 the requirement to attend a set number of hours is replaced with a more flexible approach (from the SRA website):

Principle 5 of the SRA Handbook requires you to provide a proper standard of service to your client. For a solicitor, meeting the competences set out in the Competence Statement forms an integral part of the requirement to provide a proper standard of service.

To do this, you will need to undertake regular learning and development so your skills and knowledge remain up to date. We expect you to:

  • reflect on the quality of your practice by reference to our Competence Statement to identify your learning and development needs. The Competence Statement is generic and so solicitors will need to apply it to their practice. Find out more about the Competence Statement and other ways to identify learning and development needs
  • plan and address your learning and development needs
  • record the above information so that, if we need to engage with you on a regulatory matter or where we have evidence of a competence risk, you can demonstrate to us that you have taken steps to ensure your ongoing competence. You can find more information on how to do this at how to plan and how to record and evaluate. Failure to demonstrate that you have reflected on the quality of your practice and addressed any learning and development needs, may be an aggravating factor in action we may take.
  • make an annual declaration to confirm you have completed the above…

The new system is more flexible than the old system, but it also requires more planning and thought. It is no longer possible simply to sit through 16 hours of training and meet the regulator’s requirements, particularly in an area of practice such as immigration law, which has been identified as high regulatory risk. Instead, solicitors now need to sit and plan their training needs and carefully document how those plans are enacted.

On Free Movement we have provided a template training plan for members which may be useful in showing that training needs are being identified and met. Please feel free to adapt it to your own purposes. Of course, everyone has different needs but we hope that the training available on Free Movement will at the very least meet most training needs.

OISC advisers

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner has introduced major changes to CPD for adviser with immediate effect from 12 July 2016. You can read about the changes here.

The immediate changes were:

  • No set number of hours of training must be undertaken
  • No requirement to record training on central OISC website
  • Training can be provided by anyone in any format
  • The OISC’s own free CPD training website was closed from 30 September 2016

The new scheme begins in earnest on 1 April 2017 and is currently described on the OISC website as follows:

As part of each application for continued registration, a declaration will need to be made by an accountable person at the organisation. The declaration will confirm that each adviser has identified their CPD requirements and taken action to address them, so as to maintain their competence.

Essentially, this sounds very similar to the new scheme for solicitors. The Free Movement immigration law training plan template may help.


The rules for barristers change at the beginning of 2017 on January 1. Until then, the old CPD scheme continues to apply and barristers need to keep a record showing that they have undertaken 12 hours of CPD training with an accredited provider. Free Movement and HJT Training are an accredited provider and can meet all your training needs.

Next year, the BSB is dropping the requirements to undertake training with accredited providers or to undertake a set number of hours. The new scheme will be broadly similar to that for solicitors. Some limited information is already on the BSB website:

Our new approach to CPD will:

  • emphasise barristers’ individual responsibility for identifying their own training and development needs;
  • remove our requirement that barristers must carry out a certain number of CPD hours;
  • emphasise barristers’ individual responsibility for achieving specific learning outcomes, rather than simply measuring the effort involved.

More information will be published by the BSB later in 2016. As with the SRA scheme, the emphasis will be on barristers to identify their own training needs, plan how to meet those needs and then keep records to prove it. The Free Movement immigration law training plan template can be adapted and may help.

How can Free Movement help?

Opinions will differ on the new schemes. On the one hand, freedom from having to undertake a certain number of hours with certain providers and having to attend face to face training courses with strangers may be liberating. On the other, the old system at least forced us all to do a certain amount of training in an unambiguous way and, speaking for myself, I always learn a great deal from interacting at in person training courses.

The new systems may well catch some lawyers out. It will be important to set aside some time to write down what your training needs are and how to meet them. This may include:

  • Staying up to date in a fast changing area of law (FM blog posts, FM podcasts, FM forums)
  • Refreshing knowledge on EU free movement law and procedure in light of Brexit (FM blog posts, courses, ebooks)
  • Refreshing knowledge on citizenship naturalisation and registration law and procedure in light of Brexit (coming soon…)
  • Learn about the Immigration Act 2016 (FM course and ebook available now)
  • Refreshing knowledge on other areas of immigration law and procedure (full list of courses here)

If your membership has lapsed, join up as a Tier 1 member for access to all the blog posts, courses, and forums or Tier 2 member for just the blog posts.

Have you got any requests for new courses? I’m open to suggestion on the development of new ones. Let me know by the contact form or in the comments below.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.