SC allows online MCLE compliance (A.M. No. 19-10-16-SC)

A.M. No. 19-10-16-SC: Rules and Regulations in the Conduct of MCLE Online

WHEREAS, in consonance with the general purpose of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) as provided in Rule 1, Section 1, Bar Matter No. 850 which is:

"Continuing legal education is required of members of the Integrated Bar of the Phihppincs (IBP) to ensure that throughout their career, they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of the practice of law;"

WHEREAS, the MCLE has been going on since 2001 or for the last eighteen ( 18) years with all programs conducted in a traditional classroom setting;

WHEREAS, the onset of computer technology made it necessary to adopt current trends of lean1ing and it is relevant with the changing times that an alternative mode of delivery of the MCLE be made available to members of the Bar through online and on demand MCLE;

WHEREAS, online MCLE is not something new but has long been adopted and successfully implemented in other jurisdictions;

WHEREAS, online MCLE would provide a wide variety of course/topic choices to members of the Bar wherein they can adequately select courses/topics relevant to their practice and interest;

WHEREAS, online MCLE would address the need for MCLE activities in the provinces, especially in far-flung areas where MCLE activities are few and far between, as well as for Filipino lawyers who are based abroad and would like to update their MCLE compliance;

WHEREAS, MCLE online would offer a convenient alternative to traditional MCLE lecture series, especially to old lawyers and persons with disability (PWD), and would provide a flexible way of scheduling the individual MCLE compliance of members of the Bar which is adaptable to their busy schedules;

WHEREAS, online MCLE would save time, energy and other resources of members of the Bar as they need not travel and secure accommodation at or near the venue of MCLE seminars;WHEREAS, there is a need to clearly define the m1mmum requirements and responsibilities of accredited MCLE Providers desiring to conduct MCLE online;

WHEREAS, there is likewise a need to define the guidelines and minimum requirements for lawyers who want to avail themselves of MCLE online;

WHEREAS, pursuant to Memorandum Order No. 35-2019 dated June 13, 2019, the Subcommittee on Maintenance of Membership in the Philippine Bar was created and reorganized;

WHEREAS, the MCLE Governing Board approved a Resolution allowing the conduct of MCLE online as an alternative mode of delivering MCLE subject to two (2) major requirements as follows:

a) assurance of authenticity of identity of lawyers taking online MCLE; and
b) relevancy of content of the program;

WHEREAS, the MCLE Governing Board submitted the Resolution containing a draft guideline for the conduct of MCLE Online to the Subcommittee on Maintenance of Membership in the Philippine Bar;

WHEREAS, the Subcommittee on Maintenance of Membership in the Philippine Bar approved the Resolution and submitted the draft MCLE guidelines outlining the accreditation requirements, technical requirements, security requirements, and content requirements for providers of MCLE online for the Court's consideration;

WHEREAS, the Court resolves to approve the following rules and regulations in the application, conduct, and availment of MCLE online; NOW, THEREFORE, acting on the letter recommendation of Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Maintenance of Membership in the Philippine Bar, the Court resolved to APPROVE the "Rules and Regulations in the Conduct of MCLE Online."

NOTABLE PROVISIONS:
  1. A duly accredited MCLE Provider in good standing with proven experience and track record in the delivery of quality and substantive MCLE programs may apply for accreditation as online MCLE provider;
  2. Must have a competent Head Legal Officer who will lead and take charge of the structure, review and verification of the contents of the MCLE online courses;
  3. Commitment to comply with the Data Privacy Act (DP A), including but not limited to, Collection, Use, Data Sharing, Accessing/Updating, Retention of data, etc., pursuant to Republic Act No. 10173 (Data Privacy Act of 2012) and any amendments thereto;
  4. For Private Providers, pursuant to the requirement of affiliation with a law school under MCLE Governing Board Resolution No. 005- 2014, it is required that faculty members of the affiliate law school must have active participation in the crafting of the MCLE online program such as, but not limited to, 30% participation of the faculty as members of a committee formed for this purpose which will take charge of the development of online courses/modules, or as talents/lecturers in the delivery of MCLE online/lecture;
  5. For IBP National Office, as the sole accredited Provider of all MCLE activities, including those organized by its Chapters pursuant to MCLE Governing Board Resolution No. 002-2014, MCLE online applications from IBP Chapters must be coursed through the IBP National Office and shall be subjected to the same standards as herein set forth;
  6. Providers must have: 1) Reliable internet connection; 2) High bandwidth availability, able to scale and capable of supporting numerous simultaneous connections; 3) Encryption mechanism to protect users' data; 4) High availability/uptime and low downtimes; 5) Data Retention and Destruction Policy; 6) Audit Trails and Logs; 7) Fast and reliable 24/7 Customer Service Support in case of technical glitches/issues;
  7. The Provider must incorporate interactive content in the course/module by means of Q&A or other similar modes or methods to engage active participation of viewer;
  8. The Provider must ensure the identity of their registered participants by requiring submission of a copy, preferably of his/her IBP ID or any government-issued ID for authentication purposes;
  9. The Provider must incorporate, as part of the registration process, statements for affirmation by the participant on the following: 1. As to the veracity of his/her identity; ii. As to his/her faithful and truthful personal attendance in viewing and completing the MCLE online course/module;
  10. For purposes of approval of the online course/module, the MCLE Governing Board should be allowed access to the pre-recorded course/module to review its content, relevancy and delivery where the Board may engage the services of "content referees or critiques" who are known experts in their respective fields of specialization;
  11. After approval of the course/module as part of the MCLE online offering of the Provider, the Board should still be allowed continuing access to the course/module to periodically review its relevance and knowledge content, as may be necessary;
  12. The validity of the pre-recorded course/module as part of the MCLE online offering of the Provider shall be dependent on the periodic review to be conducted by the MCLE Governing Board and/or its designated "content referees or critiques," to determine its continued relevance;
  13. Updating of the pre-recorded course/module as may be necessary to keep its knowledge content relevant must be carried out by the Provider to preclude obsolescence of the program;
  14. The MCLE Governing Board must be duly notified of any update/edit on previously approved course/module before the same may be made available to registered users;
  15. For purposes of determining the credit unit/s or equivalent weight of a course/module, the Provider, upon submission for approval of the MCLE Governing Board of a pre-recorded course/module, must indicate the proposed weight/credit unit/sand subject area/s for which it is sought to be accredited. The weight/credit unit/s shall be determined based on the following criteria: a) content relevancy; b) exhaustive content delivery; c) concise presentation; d) delivery tools used; e) other parameters as may be deemed relevant by the MCLE Governing Board;
  16. Any provider found violating any of the terms and conditions of general and online accreditation, and/or employing fraud, misrepresentation or any other form of deceit in the conduct of its online/on demand MCLE, shall be subjected to criminal and/or civil actions as may be deemed necessary and appropriate, in addition to the revocation/non-renewal of its accreditation; and
  17. Any participant found employing fraud, misrepresentation and/or deceit in the conduct of availing MCLE online/on demand shall be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action pursuant to Rule 139-B (Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys) of the Rule of Court, as amended.

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