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The SRA 2018 Code of Conduct changes: Great Expectations or Much Ado?

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) Handbook sets out the standards and requirements expected from the regulated community to achieve and observe, for the benefit of the clients they serve and in the public interest. In June the SRA announced that there will be a new version of the handbook to be introduced by autumn 2018, which aims to ‘help drive high professional standards, remove unnecessary bureaucracy and free up solicitors to work in new markets’.

The changes to the handbook follow direct engagement with around 11,000 solicitors and members of the public on its proposals. Together there were more than 400 responses to its consultation on the codes and principles, and Accounts Rules, according to

The Solicitors Regulation Authority will introduce major changes to its Code of Conduct for solicitors, with the aim of improving access to justice, increasing competition amongst law firms, and lowering the cost to the consumer. These changes will affect every solicitor and law firm. The changes will remove the restriction on solicitors being attached to a regulated law firm.

There will be separate Codes of Conduct for solicitors and for law firms to maintain high standards. And there will be a new reduced set of mandatory principals.

For some firms, these changes are expected to have far-reaching implications for the legal profession, requiring new practice manuals and procedures, new employment contracts, and significant changes to the way firms supervise their staff, with some fearing the development of a two-tier profession. Others predict a more user-friendly regulatory framework that will reduce many of the perceived barriers to justice and give solicitors and firms more flexibility to organise their business in a way that best suits them.

As the region’s specialist professional risks insurance broker, we are delighted to present our free Autumn Seminar for solicitors which aims to provide a concise and informative briefing on matters of clear and present relevance to the local legal profession. We will be joined by exceptional speakers, all of whom uniquely qualified, to develop your understanding of these significant changes to the SRA’s Code of Conduct;

Chris Handford, Director of Regulatory Policy, Solicitors Regulation Authority:
Previously with the Legal Services Board before joining the SRA in May 2015, Chris Handford will set out the changes to the Code of Conduct and how they should reduce barriers to justice for the consumer and enhance competition.

Paul Bennett, Partner, Professional Practices & Employment, Aaron & Partners LLP:
A Solicitor, Mediator and Arbitrator, who advises law firms on SRA investigations, regulatory action, employment and Partnership law, Paul Bennett will focus on the practical implications that the 2018 Code of Conduct changes may have, and suggest how law firms should be preparing for these changes.

At the Stafford event, Richard Williams will take the place of Chris Handford.

Richard Williams, Policy Associate, Solicitors Regulation Authority:
A Policy Associate at the SRA since 2012, Richard Williams has been involved in the development and implementation of the SRA’s new approach to continuing competence, including the production of the supporting tool kit. Richard will set out the changes to the Code of Conduct and how they should reduce barriers to justice for the consumer, and enhance competition.

The free events take place in Worcester on 14th November, Shrewsbury on 16th November and Stafford on 22nd November 2017 and will cover the following topics regarding the proposed changes to the handbook:

  • Offering services outside SRA regulated firms
  • New codes of conduct for individuals and firms
  • New SRA principles
  • New account rules
  • Less bureaucracy with a stronger focus on keeping clients’ money safe.

Solicitors and their colleagues are invited to join us at the free events, at which there will also be drinks and canapés and an opportunity to network. Events are CPD qualifying.