Testing attitudes to regulation and compliance in legal services
SRA Update Issue 24 – May 2012
We recently published a report on the profession's attitudes towards compliance with our regulatory requirements following a survey of 200 firms aimed at helping us to focus our activities and resources in the future.
The survey, the first of its type, was carried out last year on 200 firms using a questionnaire designed to look at factors that influence behaviour. The baseline set of statistics will help us to understand the likely causes of compliance and non-compliance.
Lack of knowledge – a cause of non-compliance
Results showed that an important factor in "unthinking" non-compliance was the lack of knowledge of our regulatory requirements. We know therefore that the efforts we have put into supporting firms' understanding of our new regime have been time well spent and we should continue this.
Non-compliance cannot be hidden
The research also highlighted the fact that the SRA is most likely to discover a breach at a firm through a visit and that firms feel they are not likely to be "caught out" either by consumers or peers. Therefore visiting firms to examine specific areas of concern is a good use of our time, especially if we can build a good understanding by firms that non-compliance cannot be hidden.
Positive attitudes too
Other attitudes revealed by the survey were that most firms
- believed they understood our regulatory requirements,
- recognised that its beneficial to comply, and
- accepted the need for regulation because they wish to be part of a profession that has high standards.
A follow-up survey will be carried out in 2013 to test for changes as a result of our new outcomes-focused approach.