Issues generally excluded from investigation
There are some issues that we do not investigate, which are detailed below. However, we will always consider allegations of discrimination or dishonesty.
Issues of poor service
Poor service includes
- unreasonable delays
- lack of communication, and
- problems with your bill.
Issues of poor service should initially be addressed with the firm in question and, if they are not resolved to your satisfaction, should be taken to the Legal Ombudsman. Read more on reporting a solicitor or firm.
Conduct outside practice
The scope of our work and our legal obligations only goes as far as regulating individuals and firms within their legal work. For example, if someone that we regulate is caught breaking the law, then they should be dealt with by the police in the first instance.
However, those we regulate are bound by the SRA Principles to uphold the reputation of the profession and act in the public interest, so if they have been arrested, convicted by a court, or found guilty of something by another tribunal or regulatory body, then we may investigate. The situation may have an impact on clients of the firm. It may also affect the person's ability to practise. We may need to take action to protect clients.
If you discover a regulated person has been arrested, charged or convicted of an offence, contact us immediately.
Disputes over employment within law firms should be taken through the same routes as employment issues within any other workplace. If resolving an issue internally does not work, then you may need to find help from organisations such as Citizens Advice or a trade union. You may also find the employment section of Directgov helpful.
Where there are disputes between partners, these should not be reported to the SRA unless the interests of clients are adversely affected, or the partnership has been affected by a finding of a court or a tribunal.
Non-payment of fees
Agent or expert fees that have not been paid are not a matter for regulatory investigation unless there is a judgment of a court or tribunal against the regulated individual relating to the unpaid fees.
Counsel's fees (that is, fees paid to a barrister) that have not been paid are not a matter for regulatory investigation unless it is reported by the Bar Council on the basis that an individual or firm
- has failed to comply with a decision from the Joint Tribunal, or
- has become subject to the Bar's Withdrawal of Credit Scheme.
However, if you have evidence that a firm that we have closed possessed money specifically meant for paying your fees, you may make be able to claim your fees from our compensation fund.
Allegations of conflict
If litigation is current or pending, and one party is seeking to prevent an individual from taking a course of action by reporting them to the SRA, we will not investigate.
Failure to hand over deeds or papers
If a lending institution is entitled to deeds or papers that a solicitor or firm is holding, and they have not been sent, we will only investigate this failure to hand the papers if the lender has made a successful application for a court order to hand over the deeds or papers.
Reports of misconduct under certain circumstances
We will only investigate reports from one regulated person about another if
- they involve alleged serious misconduct such as fraud, theft or assault
- they are made on the instructions of a client, or
- they are made to protect the interests of an identifiable client who has an interest in the outcome.
We do not investigate allegations of misconduct
- made more than six months after the alleged misconduct, or
- where there is a clear alternative legal remedy available not yet pursued.