SRA Update

Issue 28 – December 2012

In Brief

Board decides on financial advisers

Our Board agreed to amend the Handbook on solicitors referring clients to financial advisers when it met on 28 November.

The Board decided that allowing you to be able to refer to the financial adviser you believe will provide the best service to the client was in line with the ethos of outcomes-focused regulation. Previously, the Code of Conduct had stated that clients could only be referred to independent financial advisers, as defined by the Financial Services Authority.

Once the Handbook amendment is made, however, you will be able to refer clients to any financial adviser, if you believe such a referral is in the customer's best interests.

The proposed amendment to the Handbook has been sent to the Legal Services Board for approval.

Compensation arrangements to be looked at

We will soon be starting our comprehensive review of Compensation Arrangements.

The SRA is the only regulator to have a pre-emptive and immediate compensation scheme in place to offer protection to clients. We will be carrying out the two-year review to ensure fund's systems allow us to continue providing this level of reassurance.

Our review of compensation arrangements will be wide-ranging and all encompassing; we will look at all matters involved and act accordingly. This includes concerns raised regarding the impact of ABSs on the legal services market.

The review will be carried out alongside a review of the fees structure that the SRA Board uses when setting practising fees for the year.

Education and Training Review set to report back

An 18-month research project, informing the largest review of Legal Education and Training for 40 years, is coming to a close.

The Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) commenced in 2011 to examine the education and training requirements of a changing legal services sector in England and Wales, following the introduction of the Legal Services Act 2007.

The final LETR report will be published in early 2013. The review was commissioned by ourselves, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards (IPS).

Read more on LETR here: www.letr.org.uk

Social Media

SRA YouTube channel subscribers receive email alerts when we publish new video clips.

We also alert our Twitter followers when we release clips on YouTube. Nearly 8,000 of you already follow us on Twitter. To join our "twitterati", visit www.twitter.com/sra_solicitors

COLPs and COFAs

We are currently in the middle of approving the key roles of Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) and Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA). We are putting all our efforts into ensuring as many COLPs and COFAs are approved by 31 December. Those of you approved by then will start your duties from 1 January. Many thousands of you should already have had your confirmation, and we are working hard to complete the rest.

More

Last few days to renew your PC

Those of you who have still to renew your Practising Certificates have just a few days left to complete the process.

All PC applications should be submitted and paid for by Friday (14 December). Anyone still needing help and advice on completing their application will find there is a whole range of support available on the website.

This includes:

SRA sets out its strategic direction for next three years

This Friday (14 December), we will be launching our Strategic Plan at an event in Birmingham. This covers our priorities for the coming three years. The plan outlines our strategic thinking for 2013-15 and attendees will hear about our future challenges and priorities and how we propose to deliver our objectives. This launch event will also launch three other major pieces of work.

More

Question of Ethics: Should I provide client details to the police

Q: We have been contacted by the police, who want us to provide them with details of our client' address and telephone number because they suspect he has committed an offence. Should I provide this information to the police?

Read the answer

Consultations

Our consultations can be found at www.sra.org.uk/consultations.

Referral fees

There are only a few days left to respond to our consultation on implementing the ban on referral fees in personal injury cases.

The consultation asks for feedback on our proposals for dealing with the ban, which comes into effect on 1 April 2013. The ban is part of the Government's drive to reduce the number of claims for compensation.

Our proposals include two new outcomes. There is also information to help you assess whether you might be affected by the ban.

The consultation closes next Tuesday, 18 December.

More

Co-operation Agreements Policy

This policy will decide on potential agreed outcomes for those who breach the Code of Conduct, but then disclose their and others' misconduct. A key objective is to enable us to receive information that will help us to take public protection action when necessary.

If the policy is adopted, we would enter into co-operation agreements with possible witnesses who might also be in regulatory difficulties. They would provide full disclosure and, if necessary, give live evidence in a court or tribunal. Their own conduct would be dealt with as part of the agreement.

The consultation closes on 23 January, 2013.

More

International Strategy

As mentioned in the item on our Strategic Plan, we will be launching a consultation on our proposed International Strategy in the coming days.

The consultation deals with amending the Handbook to deal with cross-boundary issues. We have proposed a new chapter of the SRA Handbook to centralise and simplify the conduct provisions applying to solicitors and SRA-regulated entities established overseas, and there is also a new outcome in Chapter 7 of the Code to apply to firms in England and Wales undertaking business overseas through their own offices, or connected practices with which they have managerial and financial interdependencies.

Red Tape Initiative

Also as mentioned in our Strategic Plan item, we will also be looking for feedback on our Red Tape Initiative.

We want to maximise the benefits of OFR by removing bureaucratic processes which may have carried through from the old, rules-based approach to regulation, but which are no longer necessary. This Initiative will challenge us to undertake regular reviews of processes and regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose, allowing us to focus on issues that really matter, and will be an ongoing process.

Your feedback on this Initiative will be useful.

This will be found with our other consultations. The International Strategy and Red Tape Initiative consultations will go live on 14 December.

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