What is the SRA?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the independent regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales, created by the Law Society. The body regulates the conduct of over 125,000 solicitors after forming in January 2007.
Looking for an Expert SRA Lawyer?
Jeremy Barnett’s recent cases have involved escrow accounts (£30m +), CMC regulator issues, Insurance premium fraud and Legal funding (axiom).
Following a period of relative calm, the SRA have undertaken a flourish of activity in respect of high risk investment fraud, a legal financing fund and escrow services for an insurance guarantee loan scheme.
Jeremy Barnett has recently been instructed in the following cases.
- Re A – Escrow account for £30m Brazil Eco Housing Scheme [SRA]
- Re B – Firms who were funded by collapsed Cayman Island £100m Axiom Legal Financing Fund [SRA]
- Re C – Escrow account for Insurance guarantee loan scheme [SRA]
- Re D and E -Various CMC issues with the Claims Managament Regulator [MOJ] . Data protection and PPI additional claims
- ReF Director Disqualifiaction [BIS]
- Re G – Advice on Fraud Compliance Regulatory Processes for major private company
Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct
The SRA Code of Conduct defines ethical requirements that legal firms and individuals should adhere to, with a focus on client satisfaction and ensuring that firms are offering the very best service to their customers. The regulation is known as outcomes-focused regulation, or OFR.
The Code of Conduct forms part of the overall SRA handbook with 10 mandatory principles, demonstrating that solicitors should:
- Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
- Act with integrity;
- Not allow your independence to be compromised;
- Act in the best interests of each client;
- Provide a proper standard of service to your clients;
- Behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;
- Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely, and co-operative manner;
- Run your business or carry out your role in your business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
- Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages quality of opportunity and respect for diversity;
- Protect client money and assets.
The SRA Code of Conduct Today
The SRA Code of Conduct that we know today went live in 2011. Although this is still the Code of Conduct used today, updated versions of the handbook are published, with the most recent being published on 1 October 2018.
When this Code of Conduct came into play in 2011, it showcased a new approach to that previously seen and used before. The new approach firmly placed responsibility for meeting the requirements in the Handbook on the solicitor, and there was now allowance for more flexibility in achieving the right outcomes for the client.
Differences between the old and current SRA Rules are:
- Client care: more flexibility is now permitted, for example, agreeing on appropriate level of service with the client, with more emphasis on vulnerable clients.
- Equality and diversity is now elevated to the status of a Principle where the outcome is that a culture of opportunity and diversity is encouraged.
- Conflicts of interests: there is now more emphasis on having systems and controls to enable conflicts to be identified.
- Managing your business is now elevated to a status with a view to minimising risk. This is seen as one of the main new areas of risk following numerous high profile insolvencies.
- Reporting requirements: it is now a Principle that there must be co-operation with regulators and ombudsmen, including engaging with the SRA in an open and constructive manner to enable a proportionate response by the SRA.
- Assistance is also given to deal with risk and compliance, by a checklist of questions set to ensure effective compliance arrangements, adopting many examples of best practice taken from the business world. It is clear that compliance is no longer a task that needs to be seen as a hurdle that has been passed and then put on the ‘back burner’, rather principles of continual assessment and review are now required to ensure compliance in a changing world.
- The management of risks is given particular emphasis, with guidance as to monitoring, review, staff training, and steps to be taken to mitigate those risks.
For more information on the Solicitors Code of Conduct, head over to their website.