Notice Restrictions on the delivery of approved CPD activities by a law practice


28 Feb 2019

The Board has responsibility to ensure that mandatory continuing legal education is delivered to legal practitioners in Western Australia by accredited providers (i.e. QA providers), and has established a long standing system of approving QA providers under different categories that largely restrict the delivery of continuing professional development (CPD).
 
The Board has undertaken a review of the various categories of QA providers in Western Australia, including how the categories are determined and the extent to which the relevant QA providers have been permitted to provide CPD activities. 
 
The Board has formed the view that those QA providers in the category of Law Practice should only be providing CPD to legal practitioners of the law practice. That means, when a law practice holding QA provider status in the category of Law Practice offers CPD to legal practitioners outside of the law practice, including clients or practitioners of clients, the participants may not be able to claim that CPD as earning CPD points in order to comply with the CPD condition under rule 13B of the Legal Profession Rules 2009.
 
The Board is concerned that many practitioners have been, in good faith, earning CPD points by participating in CPD activities undertaken by a law practice approved to be a QA provider in the category of Law Practice, being unaware the CPD will not satisfy the CPD condition.
 
The outcome of the review is not intended to affect previous non-compliance by a QA provider or participating practitioners. The aim is to ensure there is sufficient information to enable practitioners to be aware whether a CPD activity will comply with the relevant requirements. 
 
In that regard, the Board’s Professional Development Committee has determined that no action will be taken in relation to non-compliance with the CPD condition for any of the CPD periods up to 31 March 2019, if the CPD was delivered by a law practice, and undertaken by a practitioner, in good faith on the basis that the activity was an approved activity under the law practice’s status as a QA provider.
 
However, the Board has amended the categories of QA providers, to take effect from 1 April 2019, to allow a law practice to be approved to deliver CPD to a legal practitioner who is not a legal practitioner of the law practice for a nil or minimal cost. It follows that from 1 April 2019 any QA provider in the category of Law Practice requires to be in the correct category to deliver approved CPD activities to practitioners who are not legal practitioners in the practice.
 
If a law practice does not become an approved QA provider in the appropriate category the alternatives are for the law practice to:
  • Limit the delivery of CPD, to be earned as CPD points, to legal practitioners in the law practice; 
 
  • Continue to deliver CPD events to legal practitioners who are not legal practitioners in the law practice, however noting that the activity is not an activity that the practitioner may claim as earning CPD points; or  
 
  • Make an application to undertake a CPD activity as a non-QA provider on a case-by-case basis.

It is incumbent on the QA provider to clarify the basis upon which CPD is being delivered as an approved activity, and whether the activity will be treated as complying with the requirement to obtain CPD points to satisfy the CPD condition.
 
However, when a legal practitioner makes a decision to participate in a CPD activity it is important that the legal practitioner ensure that the QA provider is listed on the Board’s website as an approved QA provider. It is also important to check the expiry date of the approval for the QA provider and the category of approval. If there is any doubt that the CPD activity is being provided as an approved CPD activity and whether the activity will be effective for the purpose of obtaining CPD points, please contact the Board.