Coronavirus

What are we trying to do

Provide support and information to help you understand your regulatory obligations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Who needs to know

This information is potentially of use to any individual solicitor, law firm, law firm employee, training provider, trainee or aspiring solicitor.

What's going on

We understand that the coronavirus outbreak is causing difficult business conditions for many solicitors and law firms, as well as posing challenges over how certain day-to-day activities are completed.

These are exceptional circumstances and we are looking at what we can do to help and support the legal community, while continuing to make sure the public are protected.

Information on what advice and support is available and how to access the SRA's services is below.

We have also published, and are regularly updating, a range of advice and information to help you at this time. This includes:

Common queries - providing answers to the most common or pressing regulatory questions which have arisen during the coronavirus outbreak.

Education & training queries - covering issues of specific relevance to aspiring solicitors, trainees, students and training and education providers.

Cyber security - with many staff likely to be working in new and different ways, including from home, read our tips on keeping your business and clients cyber safe.

Money laundering - The Legal Services Affinity Group's detailed guidance on remaining compliant with money-laundering obligations during the outbreak.

The Law Society has also made resources available.

Your health and wellbeing

We are in unusual times, with issues linked to the coronavirus likely to be having an impact upon the mental or physical health of many. Our Your Health, Your Career page provides information, advice and links to organisations who can offer you help and support across a wide range of areas.

SRA guidance and support

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The Law Society is providing advice and updates on coronavirus for the legal profession, including guidance, Q and A and links to useful resources.

We are liaising closely with the Law Society as the situation develops to help support the profession and help solicitors continue to work in their clients’ best interests.

We have published answers to address common regulatory queries. Read our help with common queries.

If you are a solicitor and cannot find an answer to your specific query, we recommend getting in touch with our Professional Ethics team.

If you have any questions about the impact of the virus outbreak on your matter, you should first contact your solicitor.

They should continue to work in your best interests, and tell you if any issues emerge that may affect the handling of your matter.

If you still have significant concerns about how your matter is being dealt with, for example you cannot get hold of your solicitor, then please read our information about what to do if you have a problem or you can contact us.

We expect solicitors and firms to continue to meet the high standards the public expect. This means they must do everything they reasonably can to comply with our rules, and follow our Principles. This includes serving the best interests of their clients and upholding the rule of law.

We expect firms to have appropriate contingency plans in place for disruption, but we recognise that these are exceptional circumstances and the coming months could present particularly challenging issues.

We must all remain pragmatic. We will take a proportionate approach: this includes our approach to enforcement. If we do receive complaints, we would take into account mitigating circumstances, as set out in our enforcement strategy. This includes focusing on serious misconduct, and clearly distinguishing between people who are trying to do the right thing, and those who are not.

We would recommend that if you do face compliance difficulties linked to the virus, you should clearly document the approach you have taken. If you are unsure about a specific scenario, please contact our Professional Ethics team.

Recent government announcements have made it clear that constraints needed to manage the Covid-19 pandemic will be in place for some time to come. We know that these may be disrupting usual ways of working and we have provided a range of resources to support both firms and individuals. Much of this content is in direct response to queries we have received.

We appreciate this may be a challenging time. But if you are being investigated by the SRA or we ask you to provide us with information as part of a regulatory or authorisation process it remains your duty to respond to these requests in a timely fashion. The clear public interest in maintaining high professional standards means that it is in everyone’s interests to make sure such work can continue to take place, with issues resolved as quickly as possible.

In the early months of the workplace restrictions, concerns were raised with us about, for example, accessing offices or files. By now, these issues should have largely been addressed as firms have adapted to the changing circumstances.

As is always the case, if there is an exceptional situation that makes it difficult for you to comply with our requests within a given timescale, it is important that you contact us as early as possible to discuss your concerns. We will then work with you to consider the most appropriate way forward. It is not appropriate to raise such concerns, or ask for an extension, only as you near or pass the original deadline we set.

We recognise that students, trainees and law firms are concerned about the impact on their training and assessments.

Our aim is to help by being as flexible as possible in this area, while still making sure solicitors who qualify have met the required standard. 

There is already flexibility in many areas of our training rules. For instance, trainees must be ‘appropriately supervised’ but we would accept firms putting in place sensible arrangements to do this remotely. Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) and Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) students must be assessed, but we do not specify the form that the assessments must take.

However, there were other areas where we have recognised the current exceptional circumstances could have significant implications. So, having listened to feedback ,including from training providers, law firms and other groups, we are relaxing our current assessment requirements for all parts of the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

So we have decided to allow a particular form of remote assessment invigilation called proctoring, and to consider other proposed approaches on case by case basis. That should remove uncertainty and help the vast majority of people to complete their studies and pursue their careers. Many have training contracts due to start in September - our approach will enable law firms to continue as planned.

We have produced a Q&A to explain our approach to education and training, for areas such as the QLD, LPC, Professional Skills Course and period of recognised training, read more.

We have contingency plans in place, including homeworking arrangements, to make sure we can continue to provide a service to the public and the profession.

With increased home-working, we have moved towards more digital services. If you cannot find the answer to your query on our website, we would encourage you to get in touch with us by email. This includes sending forms to us by email rather than post where possible.

Our Birmingham office at The Cube is still open, but the majority of our staff are homeworking. We would please ask that you do not visit our offices during the outbreak. Our London office, located at Martin Lane currently remains closed.

Coronavirus issues have been the focus of the following SRA Update newsletters: 

Covid-19 and other compliance issues

View our latest webinar covering your common queries and how to staying compliant during the coronavirus outbreak.