The APIL accreditation scheme has been running since September 1999 and was first established under the auspices of the College of Personal Injury Law (CPIL). In April 2005 the activities of CPIL were integrated into APIL’s structure, in order that injured people seeking out an accredited lawyer only have one route to follow. When the scheme of individual accreditation was first introduced, accreditation was granted without limit of time, and was subject to no process of revalidation.
In the professional world generally, it is now accepted that personal accreditation should not be granted without limit of time, but should be subject to some form of structured revalidation. This does not mean that the entire process of accreditation should be repeated every five years. It does mean that there should be some check that a person continues to meet the standards of competence to which their accredited status testifies.
Two developments in particular have led APIL to introduce revalidation. First, in its 2011 report on Voluntary Quality Schemes in Legal Services, the Legal Services Board Consumer Panel identified desirable characteristics of such schemes as including:
- Structured re-accreditation through which members should demonstrate that they continue to meet the required standards; and
- Competence checks, involving some independent review of cases or advice, to ensure that scheme members continue to be competent for as long as they hold accreditation.
The report rated the APIL scheme above most other similar schemes, so we want to ensure that we retain this status by responding positively to its suggestions.
Second, the Government has introduced, from 2012, a statutory revalidation scheme for doctors. These developments are of particular importance, as the LSB report sets out public expectations of voluntary accreditation schemes for lawyers, and the doctors’ scheme reflects the general public interest in continuing professional competence, as articulated by Government and Parliament.