On Thursday 6th October the SRA will commence risk based regulation, involving a new approach to authorisation, supervision and enforcement. The SRA has said that firms should start considering how they wish to operate their business and how to deal with their clients.
Whilst I do not expect many firms to be contacted by the SRA on the 6th October beginning to implement a straightforward fifteen point plan now (as a bare minimum) will help reduce the risk of attracting unnecessary SRA attention. All firms will be rated, low, medium and high risk but will not be told what their rating is. However; if you are a large firm; carry out residential conveyancing; handle a high amount of client and lender funds; the chances are you will be at least in the medium category but more likely in the high category. Set out below are seven of the more important and quicker fifteen actions that can and should be implemented before the 6th:
1. Appoint at least one person in your firm to be in charge of reading the SRA Handbook (or my summaries which are still available) and understanding what Outcomes-focused regulation is.
2. Familiarise yourself and your colleagues with the Ten Principles.
3. Make sure you have read the new Code of Conduct.
4. Make sure your head of accounts has read the SRA Accounts Rules and explained all relevant parts to your fee earners.
5. Activate your mySRA account as soon as you receive your activation letter. If you did not receive your letter by the 16th September complete the Activation key lost form:
6. Make sure all of your staff, senior partners to receptionists are, to some degree, aware of the SRA Handbook etc, so that if a call is made to your offices (in person or by phone) and someone asks, “can I please talk to the person in charge of implementing the new SRA Handbook,” they can give a professional and sensible response.
7. Make sure your letterheads, website and emails, show the words “authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority” and either the firm’s registered name and number if it is an LLP or a company or, if the firm is a partnership or sole practitioner, the name under which it is licensed/authorised by the SRA and the number allocated to it by the SRA. Chapter 8 of the Code of Conduct.
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