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SRA Update

Rule 2 changes – remuneration certificates, complaint handling

SRA Update Issue 12 – February 2010

Make sure you're on board with changes—coming into force on 1 March—to rule 2.05 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct, reflecting the repeal of the Solicitors' (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994, and replacing emergency rule 2.08.

The changes remove the remuneration certificate procedure and clients' statutory rights to information about challenging a bill. The addition means that, as part of the firm's complaints-handling duties, you must inform the client at the outset and in writing of the following points:

  • They are entitled to complain about their bill.
  • There may also be a right to object to the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Complaints Service, and/or by applying to the court for an assessment under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
  • If all or part of the bill remains unpaid, the firm may be entitled to charge interest.

As is currently the case, if a firm can demonstrate that it was inappropriate in the circumstances to meet some or all of these requirements, then they will not breach rule 2.05.

Emergency rule 2.08 (which was effective as from 11 August 2009, and preserved clients' and entitled third parties' former statutory rights to information about assessment by the court for a non-contentious bill and the solicitor's right to charge interest), will remain in force until 1 March 2010. In the mean time, solicitors should remove all reference to remuneration certificates from

  • their bills,
  • their client care literature, and
  • other stationery.

The changes to rule 2 are accompanied by a new guidance note (49B) in the guidance to rule 2.