News release

A question of trust - SRA asks what really matters and what should happen when things go wrong

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has today launched a campaign asking for views on the professional standards expected of solicitors.

The campaign "A question of trust" will involve the legal profession and the public in a wide-ranging discussion about what meeting professional standards means. The SRA has been cutting regulatory red tape for the last two years to free up the legal services market and enable growth across the sector.

Greater freedom means that the individual professional responsibilities are an increasingly important part of public protection. "A question of trust" will explore what those responsibilities and values mean, and what the profession and the public think should happen when a solicitor falls short of our standards.

The campaign runs until January next year. It will draw on surveys, interactive road shows, public meetings and a formal consultation in the autumn, providing every opportunity for people to contribute. Feedback from the campaign and consultation will be used in the development of a future SRA decision-making framework.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Trust in your solicitor is critical, but trust is, as they say, hard won and easily lost. But how easily? Here at the SRA we have to ask and answer that question every day.

"We know that principles such as honesty and independence are at the heart of solicitors' professionalism, and we want to understand what that means in practice. We will be asking the profession and the public to join us as we work through scenarios about a whole range of issues, including solicitors drinking and driving, having client files stolen, misusing client accounts and even sending intimate pictures to their staff. And we will be asking what action people think we should take in the different situations.

"Our ambitious reform programme is about setting and embedding professional standards that help create an open, competitive and innovative market. Ensuring consumer protection while reducing regulation places more responsibility on individuals, so it is essential that we make sure we are getting the balance right when it comes to our decision-making and actions."

Further information on the campaign will appear on the SRA's website in due course.