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Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the independent regulatory body responsible for overseeing and “policing” solicitors in England and Wales. Formed in January 2007 by the Legal Services Act 2007, the SRA operates independently of the Law Society, although it is formally an arm of the Law Society.

History

The SRA’s origins trace back to the Legal Services Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007. This landmark legislation ushered in significant opportunities for solicitors, allowing them to collaborate with non-lawyers and attract capital for their businesses within a carefully regulated environment. Prior to the SRA’s establishment, regulation of legal services followed a different framework, but the Act brought about radical changes in how legal services were overseen.

Powers and Responsibilities

The SRA wields substantial powers to regulate solicitors and maintain professional standards. Some of its key responsibilities include:

  1. Investigating Misconduct: The SRA has the authority to investigate allegations of misconduct by solicitors. This includes the power to require solicitors to explain their conduct, produce information, and submit relevant documents.
  2. Gathering Evidence: The SRA can compel solicitors and other relevant parties to provide information during investigations. Statutory provisions, such as Section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974 and Section 93 of the Legal Services Act 2007, empower the SRA to gather evidence effectively.
  3. Regulatory Changes: The SRA aims to provide solicitors with clear, authoritative guidance on how the Legal Services Act impacts their practices. It facilitates opportunities for solicitors to collaborate with non-lawyers and access capital while ensuring compliance with regulations.

SRA Principles

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) 7 Principles represent the core ethical standards that are expected to be upheld by those who are regulated.

Should these Principles come into conflict, those which safeguard the wider public interest (such as the rule of law, and public confidence in a trustworthy solicitors’ profession and a safe and effective market for regulated legal services) take precedence over an individual client’s interests. They should, where relevant, inform their client of the circumstances in which their duty to the Court and other professional obligations will outweigh your duty to them.

You act:

  1. in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice.
  2. in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons.
  3. with independence.
  4. with honesty.
  5. with integrity.
  6. in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion.
  7. in the best interests of each client.
SRA 7 Principles

Standards and Regulations

The SRA sets out clear standards and regulations that solicitors must follow. These include ethical guidelines, professional conduct rules, and compliance requirements. By enforcing these standards, the SRA aims to maintain public trust in the legal profession.

SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs

SRA Code of Conduct for Firms

The SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs, describes the standards of professionalism that the SRA, and the public expect of individuals (solicitors, registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers) authorised by us to provide legal services.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance

One critical area of focus for the SRA is anti-money laundering. Solicitors and law firms play a pivotal role in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The SRA provides guidance to legal professionals on identifying suspicious transactions, conducting due diligence, and reporting any concerns promptly.

The SRA Code of Conduct for Firms describes the standards and business controls that we, the SRA, and the public expect of firms (including sole practices) authorised by us to provide legal services.

Choosing a Solicitor

When selecting a solicitor, individuals can use the SRA’s solicitors register to verify a solicitor’s credentials and track record. The register provides essential information about practicing solicitors, including their areas of expertise, qualifications, and any disciplinary history.

Reporting Concerns

If someone encounters issues with a solicitor’s conduct, they can report it to the SRA. Whether it’s unethical behaviour, negligence, or other concerns, the SRA investigates complaints and takes appropriate action when necessary.

Training and Qualification

Aspiring solicitors follow specific pathways to qualification. The SRA oversees the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which assesses candidates’ legal knowledge and practical skills. Yearly reviews ensure that the SQE remains effective and relevant.

Check out our articles on Solicitors, Solicitors from Hell, Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Rule of Law, and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

Read the reviews of Junior Sussex Barrister Gavin Howe 

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

and Legal 500 Junior Barrister Eleanor Battie

She is a one-woman legal A Team”

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