SRA Code of Conduct for Firms


Introduction

This Code of Conduct describes the standards and business controls that we, the SRA, and the public expect of firms (including sole practices) authorised by us to provide legal services. These aim to create and maintain the right culture and environment for the delivery of competent and ethical legal services to clients. These apply in the context of your practice: the way you run your business and all your professional activities (subject, if you are a licensed body, to any terms of your licence).

Paragraphs 8.1 and 9.1 to 9.2 set out the requirements of managers and compliance officers in those firms, respectively.

A serious failure to meet our standards or a serious breach of our regulatory requirements may lead to our taking regulatory action against the firm itself as an entity, or its managers or compliance officers, who each have responsibilities for ensuring that the standards and requirements are met. We may also take action against employees working within the firm for any breaches for which they are responsible. A failure or breach may be serious either in isolation or because it comprises a persistent or concerning pattern of behaviour.

In addition to the regulatory requirements set by us in our Codes, Principles and our rules and regulations, we directly monitor and enforce the requirements relating to referral fees set out in section 56 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and provisions relating to anti money laundering and counter terrorist financing, as set out in regulations made by the Treasury as in force from time to time.

All of these requirements are underpinned by our Enforcement Strategy, which explains in more detail our views about the issues we consider to be serious, and our approach to taking regulatory action in the public interest.

This introduction does not form part of the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms.

Code of Conduct for Firms

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Supplemental notes

Made by the SRA Board on 30 May 2018.

Made under section 31 of the Solicitors Act 1974, section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985, section 83 of the Legal Services Act 2007, and section 57(2) and (8) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

You are reading current version in effect from 25 November 2019

Guidance

Law firms carrying on insurance distribution activities

This guidance explains key changes introduced by the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD).

Responsibilities of COLPs and COFAs

To assist COLPs and COFAs in understanding their duties and responsibilities.

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds

This guidance is for firms and individuals we regulate that are subject to The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLRs) which came into force on 26 June 2017.

Risk factors in immigration work

Common risks that solicitors and firms face when they provide immigration services.

The Insurance Act 2015

Changes to the minimum terms and conditions (MTC) of solicitors' professional indemnity insurance (PII).

Transparency in price and service

This guidance is to help you understand your obligations under our Transparency Rules.

Offering inducements to potential clients or clients

To highlight your professional obligations and issues which need to be considered with the offering of inducements to existing or prospective clients.

Closing down your practice

To enable those who are closing their practice to protect the interests of their clients and comply with our Standards and Regulations.

Regulated financial services activites

If you are a COLP or a nominated authorised signatory for a firm we regulate, you need to let us know whether or not your firm carries out financial activities for clients as part of your legal work.

Regulated financial services activites

If you are a COLP or a nominated authorised signatory for a firm we regulate, you need to let us know whether or not your firm carries out financial activities for clients as part of your legal work.

Money laundering - Case study

The following case illustrates the importance of having a consistent approach to compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations throughout the entire firm.

Money laundering and terrorist financing

This notice highlights warning signs of suspicious transactions; solicitors should be aware of the warning signs, which may require you to take action in order to avoid committing a criminal offence or breaching your professional obligations under the SRA Handbook.

How we regulate non-authorised persons

This guidance is to help you understand your obligations and how to comply with them. We may have regard to it when exercising our regulatory functions.

Tax avoidance your duties

Solicitors and firms advising clients about tax, or handle client matters of tax affairs, schemes or arrangements. It is important that you are aware of these arrangements.

Putting matters right when things go wrong, and own interest conflicts

To outline certain key considerations for putting matters right when you identify that things have gone wrong through the fault of you or your firm.

Money laundering and terrorist financing suspicious activity reports

This notice highlights warning signs of suspicious transactions; you should be aware of the warning signs, and they may require you to take action in order to avoid committing a criminal offence or breaching your professional obligations under the SRA Handbook.

Reporting and notification obligations

This guidance provides supporting information in relation to your reporting and notification obligations,

Referral fees LASPO and SRA Principles

This notice is for all practitioners who have referral arrangements for personal injury work.

Bringing criminal proceedings

This guidance is to help you understand how and when we may bring criminal proceedings

How we gather evidence in our regulatory and disciplinary investigations

This guidance is to help you understand how we gather evidence, the investigatory powers we have to gather evidence and how we can use those powers.

On-site investigations (inspections)

This guidance is to help you how we make decisions to conduct an on-site inspection and your obligations in that regard. We may have regard to it when exercising our regulatory functions.

Confidentiality of client information

To help you to understand your SRA obligations in relation to keeping clients' information confidential.

Competence standard service

This guidance focuses on our approach to investigating individuals and firms when the level of competence and standard of service falls below what we would expect.

Identifying your client

This question and answer is for solicitors, RFLs, RELs, SRA authorised firms and their employees.

Q&As on the ban of personal injury referral fees

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) introduced in 2013 a ban on referral fees in personal injury actions.