SRA to launch new regulations in November
The SRA have announced that their new regulations, which are claimed to give solicitors greater flexibility in how they work, will come into effect on 25 November 2019.
Shorter than the existing rules, the new SRA Standards and Regulations focus, so the SRA say, on what really matters – the issues most important to protecting the public and their money.
The new regulations have involved the removal of many prescriptive rules which is designed to 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.
Whether this results in less burden or whether it simply results in an unknown risk of non-compliance because the SRA’s interpretation of a firm’s duty and the firm’s own are at variance, remains to be seen.
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 a revised enforcement strategy, which was introduced in February 2019.
November will also see the SRA Digital Badge becoming a mandatory requirement for all regulated firms with 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.
To assist solicitors and law firms in preparing for the new regulations, the SRA plans to publish a range of guidance documents to cover areas such as the Accounts Rules, practical application of the SRA Principles and which type of firms and individuals need authorising.
The current version nof the regulations can be downloaded from the SRA website.