News releases

SRA welcomes decisions on Handbook and licensing authority application

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has welcomed the Legal Services Board's decision to approve its new Handbook, which sets out the standards and requirements for principles-based, outcomes-focused regulation (OFR).

The decision, made at the LSB's Board meeting on 13 June, paves the way for the launch of OFR on 6 October, when the Handbook comes into effect. The Handbook has been available in draft form since 6 April, giving law firms and the profession six months to prepare for the new regulatory approach.

At the same meeting, the LSB approved the SRA's application to become a licensing authority for alternative business structures (ABS), which will enable the ownership and management of legal service providers by non-lawyers. That application now goes forward for Parliamentary approval.

The Handbook brings together all the regulatory requirements that apply to individuals and firms regulated by the SRA. Importantly, these arrangements will apply both to traditional law firms and to ABS, thus ensuring the same level of regulatory protection to consumers regardless of the type of business providing them with legal services.

The SRA has been preparing for the introduction of OFR and the licensing of ABS for the past two years. During this time it has carried out a comprehensive programme of engagement and consultation to ensure that the profession and other stakeholders have had an opportunity to shape and understand the proposals.

SRA Chief Executive, Antony Townsend, is pleased that the SRA has adhered to the challenging timetable set by its board some 18 months ago: 'The Handbook is the culmination of a great deal of collaborative work between the SRA and our stakeholders. It is a key part of our new regulatory regime, putting the needs of clients at the heart of regulation, and offering greater freedoms in the delivery of legal services

'We are also delighted to win the LSB's approval for the licensing authority application, which will now go forward for Parliamentary approval. We believe that it is in the public interest for us to regulate ABS, as this allows us to ensure that these new business are subject to the same rigorous professional standards as those expected of traditional law firms.

'We can now look forward to being one of the first licensing authorities for alternative business structures. We remain on track to be ready to license from October, but this is subject to the Parliamentary timetable and process.'


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