Proposals continue SRA's regulatory reform
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has launched a further raft of proposals to reduce the regulatory burden on law firms.
The SRA Regulatory Reform programme was launched in May 2014 and aims to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers and restrictions and enable increased competition, without removing vital protections for consumers of legal services. A number of measures have already been implemented around Compensation Fund eligibility, accountants’ reports and residual balances in client accounts.
A consultation published today (Thursday 16 April) includes a mix of suggested amendments to the Handbook, the removal of potentially unnecessary rules, and points for discussion. The proposals are included in the consultation document “Improving Regulation: proportionate and targeted measures”, which is available on the SRA’s website at www.sra.org.uk/consultations.
The latest proposals should reduce the regulatory burden on firms. They include:
- Simplifying compliance officer approval for small firms (1-4 managers)
- Simplify candidate declaration and notification processes
- Remove the requirement for firms to carry out reserved legal activities
- ABS authorisation – operational changes and improvements
Changes to insolvency rules
- Alternatives to client accounts
Guidance on recording of non-material breaches
- Clarification on the outsourcing of legal and operational functions
- Recording and reporting of diversity data
The apprenticeship route to qualification
The consultation document also asks for preliminary views on whether the current prohibition on making payments to introducers in respect of legal aid customers – or those who are the subject of criminal proceedings – should be retained or removed.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “We are pressing hard to look at ways in which we can reduce bureaucracy. These latest proposals have been developed as a result of suggestions from the profession and following discussions with various stakeholders.
“We are also delivering on our commitment to do more for small firms, and the proposal to simplify the nomination process for compliance officers is targeted specifically at them. I would urge everyone to look at what we are suggesting and feed back their views.”
The consultation runs for eight weeks and ends on June 11. Analysis of the responses to the consultation will be put to the SRA Board on July 15.