The Legal Services Board has approved wide-ranging plans by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to deregulate training, including the delayed demise of the minimum salary.
The first part of the SRA’s Training for Tomorrow programme will be incorporated into new Handbook and come into force on 1 July.
It begins to shift the regulator’s role from prescribing pathways to qualification to setting out ‘day one’ skills and knowledge, and allowing much greater flexibility in how that is achieved.
The new training regulations also abolish the minimum salary for trainees from 1 August 2014. The decision was , but postponed for two years, to minimise the impact on individuals already within the training system.
At the time the SRA board said it was not the job of a regulator to control wages and noted that it was the only regulator to set a salary above the national minimum wage.
The LSB had already formally backed the scrapping of the minimum salary, and this and the other changes were approved last week by the board under the exemption procedure, which meant they were not subject to its usual approval process.
The Law Society argued against scrapping the rule that trainees must have experience of contentious and non-contentious work, and against abolishing requirements on course providers similar to those imposed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
The SRA will no longer require trainees to work under the terms of a contract specified by the regulator, but the society was concerned that rights and remedies might be reduced as a result.
The SRA responded by saying that the training contract was a contract of apprenticeship, and so contained an implied term that training would be carried out properly.
Other changes include removing the requirement for training principals to have four consecutive practising certificates and of the restriction on the number of trainees a firm may train, and an end to student enrollment, which currently costs £80.
An SRA spokeswoman said that the changes did not alter “the current qualification pathway to admission as a solicitor”, but introduced a more proportionate approach, taking into account the regulation of higher education by the Quality Assurance Agency as well as developments in employment law.”