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SRA looks at impact of first year of OFR

The impact of the first year of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) on solicitors firms will be revealed by a study commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

A research project looking at the effects of OFR since the regime was introduced on 6 October 2011 will start in the coming days, with 1,000 randomly selected firms being asked to take part. The SRA has contracted IFF Research to carry out the work over the coming weeks.

The purpose of the study is to identify the impact of OFR on those the SRA regulates. This will involve identifying impacts, negative or positive, on firms and their clients, and any other changes that have become necessary because of the new regime.

The research will explore why and how these impacts have been taking place, identify any which are specific to distinct groups within the profession and strengthen understanding of compliance costs. As well as providing valuable information on how the regulated firms and individuals have adapted to OFR, the research will also provide a benchmark against which future changes can be measured.

Antony Townsend, SRA Chief Executive, said: "A year ago, we were rightly proud of what we had achieved to make OFR a reality. Our staff had demonstrated outstanding levels of commitment and resourcefulness in delivering significant changes to such tight timescales.

"But I also said at the time that we were not complacent, and that while we had laid the OFR foundations, our real work was only just beginning. Carrying out this research will help us understand exactly how the first year of OFR has affected those we regulate, even though we appreciate that firms are at an early stage in terms of adopting practices and behaviours that will be expected of them in the longer term."

The work will see IFF interview the 1,000 firms over the telephone. Firms’ participation will be confidential and all responses will be anonymous. The survey will not be looking at high-impact firms covered by the Relationship Management programme, nor in-house lawyers, who will be the subject of a separate research project.

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