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Detail of outcome
Having considered the responses received the Commissioner has amended the Code of Standards. The new Code of Standards will take effect from 1 April 2016.
For the first time, the Code of Standards incorporates what was previously known as the Commissioner’s Rules. A further major change is that the new Code of Standards has changed the emphasis from prescription to a more principle-based approach. This approach is consistent with other regulators, recognising the increasing professionalism of regulated organisations while also providing protection to vulnerable clients.
In support of the Code of Standards we have produced a set of “Guidance Notes”. The “Guidance Notes” do not form part of the Code of Standards but amplify and explain certain codes and provide indicative behaviours that the regulated sector and the OISC will use to ensure compliance with the Code.
Detail of feedback received
The Commissioner received replies from the following organisations:
- Aaryas Career Ltd
- Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID)
- Bar Standards Board
- Citizens Advice
- Dynamic Immigration Consultants
- Faculty of Advocates
- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA)
- Smith Stone Walters Ltd
- St. James’s Church Legal Advice Services
- T & S Immigration Services Ltd
- The Legal Ombudsman
- UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)
- University of Reading
The Code of Standards was last reviewed in July 2007 and several changes have taken place in the immigration advice sector since the last review. The Commissioner therefore believes it is an appropriate time to amend this document.
The version of the Code on which we are consulting is substantially different from the current document in terms of style, structure and content. New codes have been added while some codes have been deleted and others changed.
In particular, the Rules are no longer presented as a separate document. Instead their content has been replicated in the Code and immigration organisations and advisers will be required to follow them as they would any other Code provision.
Further, the new Code, while retaining some prescriptive codes, has generally taken a more principle-based approach which will be complemented by Guidance Notes. We have also rearranged the sections of the Code to make it more user-friendly.
All those regulated by the OISC to provide immigration advice or services in the UK in the course of a business must comply with the Code of Standards.