The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA)

What is the Solicitors Regulation Authority?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority was established in 2007 and acts as an independent body to regulate how Solicitors conduct themselves as a profession and how they deal with their clients.  The SRA monitors both firms and individual solicitors as well as Alternative Business Structures.

The SRA established itself to instill confidence in the general public that it would hold Solicitors accountable if they neglect their responsibilities towards their clients. The regulation approach of the Solicitors Regulation Authority focuses on outcomes and is based on risk.

What are they responsible for?

  • The SRA Handbook. This covers all aspects of regulation and was updated on 1st October 2018 to Version 20. There are ten Principles which are compulsory and deal with ethics and professional standards which apply to everyone involved with law firms, including non-lawyer owners and individuals.
  • The SRA Code of Conduct. The SRA Handbook contains a Code of Conduct explaining in detail the relationship between the solicitor and his client as well as the appropriate way to manage and supervise their firm. This approach highly focuses on outcomes and strives to achieve positive and beneficial results specifically designed for your firm and clients. Solicitors have always maintained a position of trust and have an obligation to act ethically and in the best interests of their clients.

The SRA Code of Conduct provides guidance to solicitors on how to deal with these obligations by outlining 10 compulsory principles. The overriding principles are acting in the public interest and upholding justice.

  • The SRA Accounts Rules. Version 20 of the SRA Handbook was introduced on 1st October 2018.  The SRA Handbook contains the SRA Accounts Rules, which impact solicitors who operate a client account and provide guidance on the handling of clients’ money.

NB: The SRA rules and regulations governing solicitors accounts used to be substantial and very detailed, but the SRA have chosen to reduce these dramatically. It will therefore be extremely important for solicitors and other legal practitioners to ensure that they employ experienced legal cashiers and bookkeepers who are able to interpret the new rules with the benefit of hindsight. More information about the changes can be viewed in our article “From a book to a pamphlet. SRA Accounts Rules 2018 & what is client money?”

What else is the SRA responsible for?

  • Issuing practicing certificates – A solicitor must hold a current practising certificate, issued annually, to act for clients.
  • Training and admissions. The SRA also involves in training (CPD), which solicitors must complete annually to ensure they are up to date with changes in the law. In addition, they oversee the admissions process for individuals aspiring to become solicitors, as well as those seeking to obtain higher rights to act as advocates in court to represent their clients.
  • Guidance on confidentiality, outsourcing functions and compliance matters. The SRA have their own ethics department who are able to assist with matters of conflict between existing clients and other difficult questions.  They can also advise on whether the solicitors’ practice can outsource elements to third parties and provide advice on matters of compliance at the heart of all they do.
  • Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The SDT disciplines solicitors for rules violations or actions harming the profession’s reputation. This can sometimes result in the SDT striking a solicitor off the roll, fining them, or suspending them from practice. Solicitors often appear before the SDT because of bookkeeping failures. Therefore, employing experienced legal cashiers like The Law Factory LLP, who have years of experience dealing with the SRA, is extremely important.
  • Cost recovery and payment of compensation. If a solicitor or firm falls below the required standard, causing a detrimental effect on their clients, the SRA can arrange to recover costs and pay compensation.
  • Intervention in practices which are suspected of mismanagement, negligence or dishonesty. This may be because clients have complained about the handling of their cases, because the firm’s accountants have issued qualified reports showing issues with the running of the accounts, or because there is evidence of dishonesty.

The Law Factory have helped many practices, enabling them to avoid being shut down, by putting right issues caused by previous bookkeepers. If the SRA are wanting to investigate potential issues within your firm and you would like our assistance get in touch with us.

Visit the SRA Website here – https://www.sra.org.uk/

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