SRA Looking to the Future

  • 09/10/2017


The SRA has published two consultations as part of its wider Looking to the Future programme.

There are significant implications for the whole profession and everyone is encouraged to read them and let us know your views. In summary:

Consultation 1: Looking to the Future: better information, more choice

This consultation proposes changes requiring the legal profession to provide better information on price and quality of service with the aim of encouraging the public to compare legal services across the marketplace  and to facilitate a good choice of appropriate legal services.

The SRA proposals include:

  • the requirement for firms to publish their price for services and a description of the services they offer. This requirement will be limited initially to a select number of legal services such as conveyancing, wills and probate, family, employment tribunal and personal injury and will require firms to publish the required information on their website.
  • the requirement for firms to publish data on the first- tier complaints they receive and their areas of practice. This information will also be made available to re-publishers, such as online comparison sites.
  • firms to make information on SRA regulatory protections available – including introducing a mandatory digital badge that verifies that a firm is regulated by the SRA

In addition, the SRA is proposing to build a digital register to hold key regulatory data about SRA regulated solicitors and firms and make it available to the public. This can also be used for solicitors to bench mark their services against other legal service providers.

Consultation 2: Looking to the future: phase two of SRA Handbook reforms

The second consultation relates to Phase two of the SRA Handbook reforms to make rules for solicitors simpler and focused on high professional standards. This consultation covers other rules, including how the SRA approves firms and assesses the suitability of those entering the profession.

Other proposals include:

  • allowing a solicitor to provide reserved legal services, in certain circumstances, on a freelance basis to the public to simplify the current situation where there is a complex series of exemptions for solicitors wanting to work in areas such as certain insurance services, law centres and pro bono work.
  • a revised enforcement policy to provide more clarity on considerations of the SRA before enforcement and taking into account intent, harm caused, patterns of behaviour, vulnerability of the client, seniority of the solicitor, and any remedial action taken.

Some restrictive rules that add cost without sufficient public benefit will also be removed including:

  • the need for early checks on students and trainees, so that character and suitability testing is focussed on point of entry to the profession
  • the need for a solicitor owner or manager to seek SRA approval before moving firms or roles. In future, they will inform the SRA
  • the rules relating to around being ‘qualified to supervise’, which do not provide any guarantee of competence, but prevent solicitors establishing their own firms once they have qualified.

The consultation also includes proposals for transitional arrangements for the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Both consultations, ‘Looking to the Future: better information, more choice’ and ‘Looking to the future: phase two of our Handbook reforms’ run until 20 December 2017.

The consultations are available at:

MLS Regulatory Affairs Committee and COLP and COFA Forum will be discussing these at the next Forum on 21st November at Weightmans 3 Piccadilly Place office, Manchester , starting at 8.30am. All are welcome or please feedback your views via Fran Eccles-Bech or Michelle Garlick at [email protected]