News release

A Question of Trust - full consultation findings published

We have published the detailed findings of our consultation about what should happen if a solicitor falls short of expected standards. The publication of all the material and raw data means that others can now analyse the information and use for their own research.

The 'A Question of Trust' campaign used real life cases to explore the views of 5,400 members of the public and profession. They ranked the seriousness of issues, such as a solicitor being convicted of drink driving, amending a will to their own benefit, or failing to keep client information confidential.

The results show that both the public and profession supported the current approach we take, where misuse of client money, criminal activities and/or dishonesty are seen as the most serious offences. Evidence of clear intent to do wrong was also a key factor.

The public viewed information security issues, for example losing client files, and competence issues, such as a solicitor providing poor advice without fully understanding the relevant law, even more seriously than the profession did.

This information is being used to help to develop our enforcement policy, which will provide clarity around where and why we would take further action. We will be consulting on this policy - alongside the second phase of its Looking to the Future proposals - in the summer.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "The overwhelming majority of solicitors meet the high professional standards the public expect, but when things go wrong, we need to step in.

"These results show that we are generally focusing on the issues that really matter to the public and the profession. That is encouraging. We can now build on this as we develop our enforcement policy.

"Just as trust in the profession is essential, the public and the profession also need to trust that we take a fair and consistent approach when we make decisions. We are publishing the raw data to encourage others to use it for their own research and as part of our commitment to transparency."

'A Question of Trust' was the largest research of its type, and we previously presented its initial findings in the summer. Read all the findings, consultation responses, as well as full raw data.

Read a 'firm-friendly' version of the 'A Question of Trust' interactive case-based survey. This guides law firms through the scenarios and can help them explore the issues raised with their staff.