Category Archives: SRA

The latest information on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) guidance, as well as updates on upcoming reforms.

The SRA Standards and Regulations – What are the key changes?

The SRA Handbook will be replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations in November this year. The SRA has worked closely with the profession and the public to develop their proposals over the last four years, engaging with more than 35,000 people. The changes are set to modernise both SRA regulation and the legal market.

The key changes to the SRA Handbook to be aware of:

  1. Reduction in number of principles – Where the previous Handbook contained 10 Principles with accompanying notes, the SRA Standards and Regulations are constructed around seven principles which apply outside as well as inside practices. The principle to act in the best interest of the client has not changed, but a new principle of honesty has been added. The onus is now on you to interpret the Principles and use your better judgement as opposed to rigidly interpreting a narrow set of examples.
  2. Separate, Shortened Codes of Conduct – The previous Code of Conduct was too long, confusing and complicated, blurring the lines between individual and entity responsibilities. Therefore, it has been replaced with one Code of Conduct for individuals, and a separate Code of Conduct for firms. This will also make it easier for consumers to understand. The separate codes will also ensure a clear distinction between the expectations of individuals and those of the expectations of firms. The indicative behaviours which appeared in previous codes have been removed.
  3. Simplified Accounts Rules – The Accounts Rules introduced by the SRA Standards and Regulations have been simplified and contain a different definition of client money. They also include rules on the use of third-party managed accounts. The Accounts Rules are less prescriptive than previous rules which were overly complex; they focus on the key objective of safeguarding client money. Firms are still required to keep client money separate from firm money and ensure client money is only used for its intended purposes.
  4. Changes to the Insurance Distribution Directive – There is a new explicit requirement that all insurance contracts proposed must be consistent with the client’s demands and needs. Furthermore, if you advise on a certain product then you must provide a personalised recommendation explaining how the product recommended best meets the client’s needs.
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All SRA Standards and Regulations Changes approved by LSB

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has granted all the amendments to the Standards and Regulations proposed by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA). The new set of rules which will replace the current SRA Handbook are set to come into force on 25 November 2019.

The main changes to the previous draft Standards and Regulations concern the expectations of a COLP or COFA when disclosing a serious breach in a law firm. The changes mean that the ability to report a breach will be much earlier than currently set out in the SRA Handbook.

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SRA Standards and Regulations training – new course to be released soon

Central London

The SRA Handbook is being replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations, which will be in force from November 2019.

The new focus of the SRA Standards and Regulations is on each legal professional being able to justify their actions in all work that they carry out. For many legal professionals, including partners, managers, solicitors and support staff, this will require a significant change in approach. Legal professionals often only consider their professional obligations when a conflict of interest arises. However, the new SRA Standards and Regulations emphasise that legal professionals must be able to demonstrate compliance at all times.

To help firms prepare for the new regulations, VinciWorks will soon be releasing a suite of courses. The courses dynamically create a personalised learning experience based on an individual’s role in a law firm. This ensures everyone taking the course will learn what they need to know, and not waste time reviewing areas irrelevant to their practice.

The courses will help legal professionals, including support staff, to develop an understanding of the relevant SRA regulations which apply to their specific role in the law firm. SRA: Standards and Regulations ensures that all employees of an SRA regulated law firm who have a legal obligation to follow the SRA Standards and Regulations have sufficient knowledge to stay compliant.

Register for SRA training updates and get a discount code

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SRA puts firms on notice for money laundering compliance checks – risk assessment

Anti-money laundering audit

The SRA announced on 20 March 2019 that it is launching a crackdown against firms who fall foul of money laundering procedures. The regulator will initially write to a sample of 400 firms asking them to demonstrate compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. The SRA will be checking that firms have a money laundering risk assessment and implementation plan in place.

Failure to get to grips with the risk-based regime leaves firms vulnerable to money launderers and an easy target for criminals and terrorists trying to launder dirty money. While compliance can be a challenge, SRA chief executive Paul Philip says “compliance is not optional”. SRA Chief Executive Paul Philip said that his organisation is taking a robust approach to AML enforcement claiming that firms can be wittingly or unwittingly involved in crimes of money laundering and he expects firms to be vigilant in complying with the law.

Anti-money laundering risk assessment for law firms

VinciWorks has created a risk assessment that will help solicitors gain a clear understanding of whether they have the policies and procedures needed to ensure AML compliance.

Take assessment

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SRA Handbook update – Launch of new SRA Standards and Regulations moved to November 2019

Ruth Cohen, VinciWorks' Legal and Research Executive
Ruth Cohen, VinciWorks’ Legal and Research Executive

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed that the new SRA Standards and Regulations will now come into effect on 25 November 2019.

The key changes being introduced include:

  • Creating separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors
  • Simpler Account Rules that focus on the principles of keeping client money safe, rather than lots of specific technical rules
  • Freeing up solicitors to carry out ‘non-reserved’ legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator
  • Allowing solicitors to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis.
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New SRA Standards and Regulations are set to come into force in Summer 2019. How can you prepare?

Ruth Cohen, VinciWorks' Legal and Research Executive
Ruth Cohen, VinciWorks’ Legal and Research Executive

Last month, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released their Schedule of the SRA Standards and Regulations including their final draft of the Rules. While the initial set of Standards and Regulations were approved by the Legal Services Board (LSB) back in November 2018, the SRA now have made a few further amendments which have resulted in a delay in their release to Summer 2019.

Last month, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released their Schedule of the SRA Standards and Regulations including their final draft of the Rules. While the initial set of Standards and Regulations were approved by the Legal Services Board (LSB) back in November 2018, the SRA now have made a few further amendments which have resulted in a delay in their release to Summer 2019.

Note: On 20 March 2019 the SRA announced that the changes will come into affect in November 2019. VinciWorks will continue to post updates on the SRA Handbook reforms and will be releasing a course, SRA: Standards and Regulations, soon. 

The aim of the new SRA Standards and Regulations is to place greater trust in the professional judgement of solicitors and other legal professionals. The current SRA Handbook, in its 21st version, will be replaced by the new SRA Standards and Regulations.

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On-demand webinar – Understanding the SRA Regulatory Reforms

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has been finalising a package of reforms designed to provide solicitors and law firms with greater flexibility over how they operate, making legal services more accessible to the public.

These include the new Price Transparency Rules set to be introduced on 6 December 2018, the Insurance Distribution Directive and reforms to the SRA Handbook including revised Account Rules.

In our recent webinar, Richard Williams, Policy Associate at the SRA, Ruth Cohen, Legal and Research Executive at VinciWorks and Gary Yantin, Director of Best Practice at VinciWorks explored the upcoming changes to the SRA Handbook. The webinar explored the implications of the SRA reforms and gave guidance and tips on how to be SRA compliant.

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Legal Services Board approves all amendments to the SRA Handbook

The Legal Services Board has granted in full the application from the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) for the new SRA Handbook which is set to be enforced in late 2019. In their 150 page Summary of Decision, the Legal Services Board did not find sufficient reasons to refuse the application.

Back in August 2018, the SRA applied to the Legal Services Board to approve the SRA Handbook changes as part of their Looking to the Future Program. The Legal Services Board issued an extension notice for their decision following heavy pushback from The Law Society, as well as 128 further representations, the majority supporting The Law Society’s position. However, despite this opposition, the Legal Services Board concluded that the SRA Handbook changes do not meet the refusal criteria.

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In conversation with the SRA: What’s the latest on the SRA Handbook?

Ruth Cohen, VinciWorks' Legal and Research Executive

Ruth Cohen, Legal and Research Executive at VinciWorks

Director of Best Practice Gary Yantin and Legal and Research Executive Ruth Cohen recently travelled to Birmingham to meet with the SRA and discuss what’s coming up in the next 12 months. The new SRA Handbook is going to see some important changes in the regulation of solicitors, and we’re working hard at VinciWorks to make sure you have the tools you need to understand the Handbook and be compliant with the updated rules.

Overall, solicitors can not only expect a shorter, simpler code but two codes of conduct; one for individuals and one for firms. Nevertheless, the revised, 20th edition of the SRA Handbook was published on 1 October and contained a series of changes to the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD).

The key changes being introduced by the SRA

SRA to provide regulatory guidance, yet support additional training from compliance providers

The SRA, while focusing on regulation, will be providing guidance to support the implementation of the upcoming regulatory changes. In addition to their own guidance, the SRA sees the role of compliance providers such as VinciWorks to provide additional guidance and training materials for law firms.

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SRA Price Transparency Rules – What you need to know

Pricing spelt out in cubes

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority’ (SRA) Price Transparency Rules are set to come into effect in early December 2018. They provide a major change to how law firms must publicise their prices for certain services which they offer to clients and general consumers. This is part of key changes the SRA are carrying out as part of their Looking to the Future programme.

Who are the Price Transparency Rules intended for?

These are intended for law firms who are required to publish information on the prices and the services which they offer to consumers under Rule 1 of the SRA Transparency Rules. Those firms that are not obligated to provide a transparent pricing list may still find the Price Transparency Rules useful.

What are the aims of the new Price Transparency Rules?

The new Price Transparency Rules aim to ensure that before making certain choices regarding legal representation, consumers will be provided with pricing information, to allow them to make the most informed decisions regarding which legal services provider they choose. The aim is that by providing clear pricing details, consumer misunderstandings later in a transaction will be avoided, as a result of transparent information being provided from the onset.

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