SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs


Introduction

The Code of Conduct describes the standards of professionalism that we, the SRA, and the public expect of individuals (solicitors, registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers) authorised by us to provide legal services.

They apply to conduct and behaviour relating to your practice, and comprise a framework for ethical and competent practice which applies irrespective of your role or the environment or organisation in which you work (subject to the Overseas Rules which apply to your practice overseas); although paragraphs 8.1 to 8.11 apply only when you are providing your services to the public or a section of the public.

You must exercise your judgement in applying these standards to the situations you are in and deciding on a course of action, bearing in mind your role and responsibilities, areas of practice, and the nature of your clients (which in an in house context will generally include your employer and may include other persons or groups within or outside your employer organisation).

You are personally accountable for compliance with this Code - and our other regulatory requirements that apply to you - and must always be prepared to justify your decisions and actions.

A serious failure to meet our standards or a serious breach of our regulatory requirements may result in our taking regulatory action against you. 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 these requirements are underpinned by our Enforcement Strategy. That strategy 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 Solicitors, RELs and RFLs.

Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs

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Conflict, confidentiality and disclosure

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When you are providing services to the public or a section of the public

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Supplemental notes

Made by the SRA Board on 30 May 2018.

Made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974, section 89 of, and paragraphs 2 and 3 of Schedule 14 to, the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 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).

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.

Access to and disclosure of an incapacitated person's will

To clarify circumstances where a solicitor can disclose a copy of a client's will to a property and financial affairs attorney.

Risk factors in immigration work

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

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.

Transparency in price and service

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

Drafting and preparation of wills

Areas of concern associated with will writing and the professional obligations of those responsible for the preparation and drafting of wills.

Dealing with claims for mis sold payment protection insurance

To remind practitioners of their professional duties when accepting and dealing with claims relating to mis-sold payment protection insurance.

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.

Payment Protection Insurance claims

This warning notice is relevant to all those we regulate acting in claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

Risk factors in personal injury claims

This Warning Notice is relevant to solicitors and all regulated persons who take personal injury referrals from third parties, work closely with them or act on their instructions.

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.

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.