SRA hails performance after drop in complaints

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has welcomed a report announcing a further drop in complaints against its work.

The report to the SRA’s board by the Independent Complaints Resolution Service says the number of complaints in 2015 dropped to 1,087.

This follows a drop in 2014 to 1,209 from 1,315.

The SRA puts this down to improved communication with complainants. While previously communication was the biggest cause for complaints, it has now been superseded by the complaints on the outcome of complaints.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the ICRS’s final report and we thank them for the helpful advice and recommendations they have made over the five years. It has been instrumental in helping us improve not only the way we deal with complaints about our service, but in identifying the root causes of complaints.

“It is encouraging to see that the independent reviewer continues to commend us for taking a responsive approach to complaints. As with anything we do, however, we know there is room for improvement.

“We have to balance carefully being a proportionate modern regulator, with ensuring the public have confidence that we tackle the right things, at the right time. I’m pleased that complaints have fallen by nearly 20 per cent in two years, but we know we can do better and will continue to strengthen our work in this area.”

The report states: “It is right to say that the SRA receives few complaints in relation to the large volume of work it carries out and its ongoing interactions with members of the profession and the public. Most people are satisfied that the SRA does a good job and recognise the efforts being made by the SRA to become a regulator suited to the 21st century.

“Despite this, this year there was a marked increase in the number of referrals we received. Most of these came from members of the public who had complained about actions by solicitors which they felt warranted disciplinary action by the SRA. When the SRA did not agree with this, people were disappointed and often angered that solicitors had ‘got away with it’ and felt that the SRA was ‘on the side of solicitors’.

“In many of these cases we could not help. This was because the complaints were solely about decisions made by the SRA as regulator and so did not fall within our remit. We have been heartened to note that in the last few months, the SRA has been more robust when signposting people to ICRS – telling them clearly what we can and cannot do, in order to manage expectations appropriately. This has resulted in a slowing down of referrals which augers well for the future.”

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