Bar Standards Board (BSB)
- BSB seeks women’s experiences at the Bar – the BSB launched a survey on 12 January 2015 to better understand women's experiences of the equality rules of the BSB Handbook. The BSB will use the data to review the current equality rules and to determine whether or not further regulation is needed to improve the retention and progression of women. The survey has been sent directly to all women practising at the Bar to complete. The survey closes on Monday 8 February at 9am.
- BSB and Legal Services Board (LSB) launch new survey on the operation of the Public Access scheme for barristers to complete - The BSB and LSB are conducting research in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the operation of the Public Access scheme. This work will develop a detailed picture of the current provision of legal services through public access barristers. Pye Tait Consulting has been commissioned to undertake this work on behalf of the BSB and LSB. During December 2015 and January 2016, Pye Tait Consulting will be contacting public access practitioners to ask them to take part in a survey, which can be undertaken either online or via telephone.
- BSB consults on the cost of regulatory activities, including ABSs - The first consultation is in respect of the fees and charges the BSB currently levies on those who use specific regulatory services such as overseas lawyers, education and training providers. The consultation closes on Monday, 15 February 2016 at 12.00pm. The second consultation looked specifically at the fees and charges that are being proposed should the BSB be permitted to licence and regulate Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) in 2016. The BSB's application to licence ABSs is currently being reviewed by the Legal Services Board. The consultation closed on Sunday, 10 January 2016 at midnight.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- FCS consults on client money rules - The FCA is consulting on changing its client money rules for firms that operate electronic systems in relation to lending (P2P platforms) and hold both money for clients in relation to regulated P2P agreements under their client money rules (CASS 7) and money for clients in relation to unregulated lending (B2B agreements).
- New Bank Start-up Unit launched - The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and FCA have launched the New Bank Start-up Unit. The Unit is a joint initiative from the UK’s financial regulators giving information and support to newly authorised banks and those thinking of becoming a new bank in the United Kingdom. The joint New Bank Start-up Unit will assist new banks to enter the market and through the early days of authorisation. It will draw staff from the PRA and the FCA, with a standalone website, telephone number and email address. It will provide new banks with the information and materials they need to navigate the process to become a new bank, as well as with focused supervisory resource during the early years of authorisation.
General Dental Council (GDC)
- Dental board set to improve regulation - The Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board (RDSPB) of which the GDC is a member of, has published a report outlining some improvements for a more effective future model of dental regulation. The Future of Dental Regulation is the culmination of a one-year programme carried out by the RDSPB. It outlines seven key areas of improvement and agreed actions that will make dental regulation more coherent, streamlined and effective.
- GDC announces 2016 fees for dentists and dental care professionals - Following a public consultation with over 900 responses, the GDC has made its decision on the level of the annual retention fees (ARF) for 2016. The GDC has decided that the ARF should remain the same as last year.
General Medical Council (GMC)
- GMC appoints former mental health tsar to improve its support for vulnerable doctors – The GMC has appointed one of the UK’s leading mental health experts to provide independent advice on how it can support vulnerable doctors. Professor Louis Appleby will help the GMC review its fitness to practise investigations following the publication of an independent review in December 2014. The review, commissioned by the GMC, made several recommendations to improve its procedures when dealing with doctors who may be at risk of taking their own lives. Professor Appleby will work with the GMC to review every stage of its investigation process to identify what further changes could be made to support vulnerable doctors.
- New power for GMC to appeal tribunal decisions - The GMC now has the power to challenge decisions of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) against doctors who are alleged to have breached GMC standards. The MPTS makes independent decisions and operates separately from the investigatory role performed by the Fitness to Practise arm of the GMC. The change to the Medical Act means the GMC can appeal against tribunal decisions to the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, the Court of Session in Scotland, the High Court of Justice of Northern Ireland when it considers the tribunal has not adequately protected patients.
General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
- New guidance on how decisions to refer cases to a fitness to practise committee are made – the GPhC has launched new guidance which explains the role of the investigating committee and how it decides what outcome is appropriate when allegations are referred to it “Good decision making: investigating committee meetings and outcomes guidance” also explains who sits on an investigating committee and the outcomes which the committee can decide on. The guidance came into effect on 13 January.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- HCPC publishes review of social work education in England - The HCPC has published a review on its work in qualifying social work education in England in the period from 1 August 2012 to 31 August 2015. The report reviews the work undertaken to approve social work education programmes in England following the transfer of regulatory functions from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to the HCPC in 2012.
- HCPC statement following Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's announcement about plans to establish a new body for social work - On 14 January 2016, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced the intention to establish a new regulatory body for social work to drive up standards with a relentless focus on raising the quality of social work, education, training and practice in both children’s and adult’s social work, which will become the new regulatory body for social work, in place of the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC has issued a statement in response to that announcement. The HCPC has stated that it was very surprised by the announcement and sees itself as an efficient and effective regulator with robust regulatory processes and standards for conduct, education and professional skills. The HCPC has stated that it will continue to fulfil our primary aim of public protection by regulating the 16 health and care professions on our Register and looks forward to seeing the detail of this decision and will work closely with Government as they bring forward any necessary legislation to facilitate this change.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
- Updated revalidation guidance documentation published – following the NMC receiving confirmation from the Department of Health that England is ready for the implementation of revalidation for nurses and midwives, as planned from April 2016, the NMC have published reviewed materials of various materials.
Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
- SRA proposes a Solicitors Qualifying Examination for all new solicitors - The SRA is consulting on a new standardised system for assessing trainees. Under the new system proposed, everyone wanting to qualify as a solicitor would undergo the same professional assessment based on the competences required to do the job. The proposed new assessment, called the Solicitors Qualifying Examination is based on a new ‘competence statement’ developed by the SRA which is a benchmark defining what all solicitors should be able to do competently in order to qualify and to practise. The SRA believes this new approach could help foster greater diversity in the profession by ensuring all candidates meet proper standards regardless of the pathway they take. The consultation runs until 4 March 2016.
- SRA begins review of legal support for asylum seekers - The SRA has unveiled a programme of work to better understand how the legal service market serves asylum seekers. A new report, commissioned by the SRA and written by Migration Work CIC, Refugee Action and Asylum Research Consulting (ARC), involved interviews with asylum seekers and those involved in guiding them towards or providing legal advice. The report found some evidence of solicitors not fully understanding relevant laws, including immigration and nationality law, family law and child law. However, the report also found examples of good practice. The SRA will now move to the next phase in this programme of work with an in-depth, thematic review to explore further the issues the report highlighted and identify any regulatory measures which might be needed.