SRA confirms November launch for new regulatory model

  • 20/03/2019

Issue Date: 20 March 2019

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed that its new regulations, which will allow solicitors greater flexibility in how they work, making it easier for people to get help, will come into effect on 25 November 2019.

Shorter and more targeted than the existing rules, the new SRA Standards and Regulations focus on what really matters – the issues most important to protecting the public and their money.

The removal of many prescriptive rules will reduce the burden on solicitors and law firms and allow solicitors greater freedom to use their professional judgement in considering how they meet the standards.

Key changes being introduced include:
• Creating separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors
• Simpler Account Rules that focus on the principles of keeping client money safe rather than lots of specific technical rules
• Freeing up solicitors to carry out ‘non-reserved’ legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator
• Allowing solicitors to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis

The new regulations will be supported by the SRA’s revised Enforcement Strategy, which was introduced in February 2019, and provides greater clarity on the regulator’s approach in cases of potential misconduct.

Coinciding with the introduction of Standards and Regulations, November will also see the SRA digital badge becoming a mandatory requirement for all regulated firms who run a website.

First launched on a voluntary basis in December 2018, the badge uses smart technology to confirm to website visitors that a specific firm is regulated. It also provides a firm-specific link to information on the protections that this status provides to potential customers.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, said: “Our new regulations place a sharp focus on the high professional standards that we and the public expect, while allowing solicitors greater freedom in how they deliver their services.

“By stripping away outdated and unnecessary rules and giving solicitors more flexibility to design and deliver their services around their clients, our new regulations are designed to help people access a wide range of high quality services with the confidence that proper protections are in place. That can only be good for both the public and the profession.”

The reforms were approved by the Legal Services Board (LSB) last year. They were developed over a four-year period, and informed by four major public consultations, with more than 35,000 members of the public, the profession and wider stakeholders getting involved.

To help solicitors and law firms prepare for the introduction of the Standards and Regulations, the SRA will publish a range of guidance over the coming months. Initial documents will cover areas such as the Accounts Rules, practical application of the SRA Principles and which type of firms and individuals need authorising.