News release

Criminal legal aid – further advice

We have written to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association today to clarify the professional standards we expect solicitors involved in action over criminal legal aid changes to uphold.

We have already published a warning notice in response to the protocol issued by the LCCSA reminding solicitors of their obligations. The LCCSA amended the protocol in light of this warning notice, but we continue to have concerns about risks to clients' interests and have written to the association's chair, Jonathan Black, to outline those concerns.

Paul Philip, our chief executive, said: "We recognise that this is a difficult commercial dispute. However, our role is to ensure those we regulate uphold their professional obligations even during difficult times—in fact it is exactly when under pressure that the risks to clients become most serious. If a solicitor is approached for legal advice or assistance, they should take reasonable efforts to help that person to obtain the assistance they need, whether or not the solicitor is in a position themselves to take on the matter, or has an existing duty to them as a client."

"The protocol is trying to balance the action that firms are engaged in with the overriding professional obligations. In our view the protocol is not achieving that balance."

The letter is available here: www.sra.org.uk/cla#letter

 

Note to editors

The SRA is the independent regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales, protecting consumers and supporting the rule of law and the administration of justice. We do this by overseeing all education and training requirements necessary to practise as a solicitor, licensing individuals and firms to practise, setting the standards of the profession and regulating and enforcing compliance against these standards.

The warning notice was issued on Monday, 27 July, and can be accessed here: www.sra.org.uk/cla

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