A Statement of Competence for Insurance Solicitors
On 11 March 2015, the SRA Board approved the publication of a competence statement for solicitors, made up of three parts (a statement of solicitor competence, the threshold standard, and a statement of legal knowledge).
Whilst the SRA statement of solicitor competence sets the standard for all solicitors, insurers rightly expect the solicitors they instruct to be specialists, to understand the industry and their businesses and apply appropriate skills and knowledge when handling their work. Insurers want to instruct not just competent solicitors but highly skilled insurance solicitors.
The The FOIL Competence Statement is a statement of insurance solicitor competence. It does not replace the SRA statement, which all solicitors are required to meet, and should be read with that document, but this statement interprets it and refines it to reflect the demands of insurance work and the requirements of insurer clients. A competent insurance solicitor will not just be competent on legal issues but will also have a relevant understanding of insurance law and the insurance industry, and more specialist knowledge relating to the commercial sector in which he or she works.
The insurance industry and the Law Society
The ABI, the CII and the Law Society have all reviewed the FOIL Statement of Competence and have given their support to the project.
Insurers expect their lawyers to work to the highest standards of excellence at all times and the FOIL Statement of Competence and Statements of Legal Knowledge are important benchmarks, both for established insurance lawyers and those seeking to specialise in these areas of insurance law. Our members should expect their lawyers to work to the FOIL standard.
James Dalton Director at the ABI
The CII is very supportive of FOIL’s work to recognise and evidence its members’ insurance law expertise, as it is a key part of increasing professionalism across the sector which ultimately supports better customer outcomes.
Ant Gould Director of Faculties at the CII
The FOIL Statement of Competence, mapping against and building on the framework of the SRA’s Competence Statement, is a positive step. This is an area that all solicitors will have to grapple with to meet the new continuing competence requirements and the FOIL approach is a welcome development.
Catherine Dixon Former CEO of the Law Society
The Statement refers to ‘solicitors’ as it is based on the SRA document. However, it will have much wider application within FOIL member firms. It is expected that all lawyers with care and conduct of client matters will meet the competencies appropriate to their work-type, whether they are a solicitor, a qualified lawyer, or alternatively qualified.
As noted above, the SRA suite of competency documents includes a statement of legal knowledge, setting out the knowledge that a solicitor should have at the point of qualification. For some areas of insurance work a separate FOIL statement of legal knowledge will also be relevant, for solicitors and other lawyers with care and conduct of matters within that specialism. Where that exists it should be read in conjunction with the general SRA statement of legal knowledge.
Using the knowledge and expertise of our Sector Focus Teams, made up of acknowledged experts in their sector, FOIL has produced Statements of Legal Knowledge for 12 areas of insurance law as follows.
These represent the highest benchmarks of knowledge in each sector, and can be used to demonstrate competence within the regulatory framework, as well as excellence in more commercial settings. They also set the standards for up and coming lawyers aspiring to specialise in a particular sector. Lawyers will need access to FOIL material to help keep their knowledge up to date and we will issue more Statements of Legal Knowledge for other areas of insurance over the next few months as FOIL increases the range of specialisations covered by the Standard.
Responsibility for learning and development
The SRA requires all solicitors to comply with Principle 5 of the Code of Conduct, to provide a proper standard of service, by reflecting on the quality of their practice by reference to the SRA competence statement and addressing identified learning and development needs. Solicitors wishing to be recognised as meeting the standards set out in the FOIL Defendant Insurance Solicitor Competence Statement should do the same with regard to the statement below.
The responsibility to identify and address learning and development needs is a personal one which every solicitor needs to undertake, taking into account their own area of work and their own knowledge and abilities. The responsibility for meeting the standards set out below rests with the individual – it is important that every lawyer is proactive, to meet the standards and to fulfil his or her own potential.