On 1 August 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) put out a call for evidence on client protections. The Law Society has responded to this call for evidence
The response contains the following key points.
- The existing client protections offer outstanding protection to the public. They may not be perfect and we accept that, at times, they can cause problems for firms, but they both ensure client protection and the reputational integrity of the profession.
- The SRA has not set out an urgent case for a requirement for changes. Under section 28 of the Legal Services Act 2007, the SRA has a general duty to have regard to the principle that its actions are targeted only at cases in which action is needed.
- The SRA should also follow the guidance of the Regulators Code to ensure that the changes properly comply with the regulatory objectives and are proportionate, effective and targeted.
- Evidence is crucial and the SRA should not simply rely on stakeholders to provide evidence but should itself do work to ensure that it fully understands the risks and likely impact of changes.
- The Society sees merit in review of the system but this should not been done piecemeal without any consideration of the impact on firms and their clients. The SRA should indicate what it sees as faults in the current system and say what it would like to achieve. It should then consult on those objectives. Once its objectives have been identified and agreed, it should research how best to achieve them and present its recommendations with a full assessment as to how those changes will impact on the market, the profession and most importantly the clients who rely on firms to protect them.