The SRA published a fourth version of its Handbook on 21 June 2012. The new edition is the fourth in ten months. The changes in it relate to the SRA Handbook Glossary 2012 and the Authorisation and Practising Requirements. The main changes deal with the scheme for compliance officers to be appointed which has been delayed, and when an in-house legal team needs to become an ABS.
The main changes to the Glossary are the addition of defined terms such as ‘criminal advocacy’ and ‘SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Notification Regulations’. Changes have also been made to the definition of ‘you’. These changes will be effective from 2 July 2012.
There are several amendments or additions to the section of the Handbook dealing with Authorisation and Practising Requirements.
The first amendment is to the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011.
These rules set the framework for firms and individuals regulated by the SRA. Rule 4 contains the regulatory provisions relating to those regulated by the SRA who work in an in-house capacity. Rule 4.1 restricts the provision of in-house services to primarily the employer. This is subject to certain exceptions to allow provision of specified services to certain linked clients. Rule 4.12 sets out the exceptions for those working in-house for associations. Rule 4.12(a) was a restriction on providing any reserved legal activities to members of the employer association with limited transitional provisions found in Rule 22, effective until 21 June 2012.
In the fourth version of the Handbook Rule 4.1 has been amended to clarify who is affected by the in-house provisions, and to highlight the exceptions to acting only for the employer. Extra wording has been added as sub-paragraph 4.1(b). This underlines the need for those working in-house not to act in reserved matters for the public unless the employer has authorisation itself under the Legal Services Act.
Rule 4.12(a) and Rule 22.7(a) have been deleted so that there is no longer an automatic regulatory restriction stopping those working in-house for associations carrying out reserved work. These changes are effective from 21 June 2012.
The second amendment is to the SRA Authorisation Rules for Legal Services Bodies and Licensable Bodies 2011.
Rule 8.5 requires all authorised bodies to have appointed a compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and a compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA) who have been approved by the SRA. On March 31 2012 all existing recognised bodies were transitioned to be regulated under the Authorisation Rules, and so are now subject to Rule 8.5.
Those recognised bodies which were already recognised on 31 March 2012 have a grace period which is set out in Rule 22.7. This allows firms to be treated as being in compliance with Rule 8.5 without having an approved COLP and COFA appointed.
In the fourth version of the SRA Handbook, the end date of the grace period is changed from 31 October 2012 to 31 December 2012, and this is effective from 21 June 2012.
The third change is to the SRA Practising Regulations 2011.
Regulation 4.8 requires all recognised sole practitioners to have in place a designated COLP and COFA who have been approved by the SRA. Sole practitioners who were recognised by 18 April 2012 have a grace period in which firms are treated as being in compliance with Regulation 4.8 without an approved COLP and COFA in place. This grace period is found in Regulation 19.5.
Version four of the Handbook has been amended so that the end of the grace period in Regulation 19.5 is changed from 31 October 2012 to 31 December 2012, and this is effective from 21 June 2012.
The fourth change related to the SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Notification Regulations 2012 and is effective from 2 July 2012.
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