News releases

SRA sends out reminder on new Authorisation Rules

On 31 March, the SRA Recognised Bodies Regulations 2011 are repealed, at which point recognised bodies will be transitioned to be regulated under the SRA Authorisation Rules.

Since it is some time since formal consultations on the Handbook took place, when these changes were proposed, the SRA is highlighting some of the changes that the profession might need to be reminded of.

  • With effect from 31 March, firms will need to seek the SRA’s approval for new lawyer managers in advance of them joining the firm – rather than just notifying the SRA, as now. New Solicitor Managers who can be deemed approved will also need to notify the SRA in advance of their appointments. The approval process must be completed in advance; it cannot be undertaken retrospectively.

Richard Collins, SRA Executive Director said: “We need to ensure that approval processes are in place that allow for managers to be properly approved within the context of the authorised body that they will manage. Solicitors who do not have any conditions on their practising certificates preventing them from being a manager or an owner, will not be subject to the full authorisation process.”

  • Non-lawyer managers of Legal Disciplinary Practices (LDPs) already require approval from the SRA in advance of joining. The change for them is that the approval is no longer transferrable to a non-lawyer manager role at another firm.
  • Recognised Bodies will move to a system of lifelong recognition and certificates will be sent to them over the coming months.
  • Sole practitioners were expected to transition into the SRA Authorisation Rules on 31 March, a process requiring an S69 order. However, the S69 Order is not yet in place so as an interim step, the SRA has put in place equivalent provisions within the SRA Practising Regulations 2011, which will be contained within the third edition of the handbook, together with information on COLPs and COFAS, information requirements, regulatory compliance, and other relevant guidance. This puts sole practitioners into the position they would have been in, had they transitioned to the SRA Authorisation Rules at the same time as recognised bodies. Further updates on the S69 order will be provided once a firm schedule is established.
  • The SRA is finalising plans to announce a new date for nominating COLPs and COFAs from 31 March, to enable further testing of the forms and information to be provided to firms before they finalise their appointments and make their nominations to the SRA. The process is expected to commence in the next six weeks. As soon as the date is finalised, the SRA will be writing to all firms providing further advice and information, timescales and details of the information required for the online process. It is still the SRA‘s intention to approve by the original date of 31 October, when COLPs and COFAs must start fulfilling their duties (See release from 14 March, 2012)

Richard Collins concluded: “These are among the remaining provisions of the Handbook consultation to come into effect and we felt it important to remind the regulated community of these important aspects.”

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