Annual Review 2016/17

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Our Annual Review 2016/17 discusses our performance against the objectives set out in our Corporate Strategy and key regulatory activities from the reported year.

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About us

The Solicitors Regulation Authority regulates 186,000 solicitors and 10,400 law firms in England and Wales. We work in the public interest, protecting consumers, setting and enforcing high professional standards, and supporting access to affordable legal services, the rule of law and the administration of justice.

Setting high professional standards

We make sure that those entering the profession are fit to practise and meet the high professional standards the public expects. We do this by overseeing professional education and training, setting the entry standards, and checking that applicants are of a suitable character before allowing them to become a solicitor.

Similarly, we assess law firms and other types of legal businesses to make sure they are fit to offer legal services before allowing them to do so. And, once those individuals and firms are in practice, we provide guidance and rules, such as requiring continuing professional development, to make sure that those standards are maintained.

Information and guidance We provide information about solicitors, their work and the standards the public is entitled to expect. We are working towards increasing the availability of relevant and timely information, to help people make good choices when purchasing a legal service.

Safeguarding the users of legal services

We make sure the public is protected by taking action when things go wrong. We set and monitor indemnity insurance requirements and we operate a compensation scheme. The discretionary fund will, in some circumstances, replace money lost by people because of the dishonesty or incompetence of an individual or law firm that we regulate.

Disciplinary action

We monitor and supervise the conduct of solicitors and firms against the standards we have set. If solicitors or firms do not meet these standards, we investigate their practice and compliance with our rules, where necessary taking regulatory action, such as issuing a fine or reprimanding the solicitor. We prosecute when we have serious concerns about a solicitor or a firm's conduct at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. When necessary, we take possession of a firm's files and money to protect clients and the wider public, and return papers and money to their owners.

Affordable and accessible legal services

Most people and small businesses do not use legal services when they have a legal problem. We know that legal services are seen as expensive and hard to access, so we are working to create an open, modern and competitive legal market, providing more affordable and accessible services. To do this, we are reviewing our regulatory requirements to make sure they are proportionate. We are also reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, so solicitors and firms can do business more easily and offer new services, while maintaining consumer protection.

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