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SRA seeks views on cost-saving initiative

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is seeking views on its proposals for managing the storage of files and original documents following an intervention.

The proposal aims at reducing the costs associated with this element of interventions. The SRA has launched a consultation on its suggested retention policy for files and documents collected during the closure of firms.

The SRA currently has six million such documents relating to closed matters in storage, the cost of which is borne by the profession. As the number of interventions is expected to rise because of increased financial instability in firms, the SRA is seeking to reduce the associated costs by altering the length of time certain files should be kept.

An eight-week consultation has therefore been launched asking for views on the new proposals for the retention of documents. Of the six million files the SRA has collected during interventions, only 33,000 have ever been asked for by clients - a mere 0.55 per cent of the total. And less than half of those were for original documents.

Helen Herniman, SRA Director of Client Protection, said: “Because of previously undisclosed financial stability issues, the predicted number of interventions we may have to carry out has risen dramatically and the associated costs, especially where firms have failed to adhere to or implement effective file destruction policies, have increased significantly. Intervention costs have therefore been driven by the need to secure and manage a disproportionately large number of closed files.

“The profession ultimately bears these costs, so we promised in March that we would look at ways of reducing the costs of interventions where possible. We have considered how long we keep files following an intervention into a firm, and the proposed changes to our policy are set out in the consultation document.

“The consultation outlines various retention periods for different types of document. We believe we have a sensible and balanced set of proposals, but if anyone thinks we have missed anything or we can further improve on the suggestions, we’d like to hear from them by responding to the consultation.”

View the consultation

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