SRA publish draft supervision and enforcement strategy for conveyancers

A draft supervision and enforcement strategy for conveyancers, published on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website, will, as well as running alongside the overarching enforcement strategy, detail the way in which the SRA will engage with firms who undertake conveyancing work.  The strategy aims to help both consumers and the profession understand what the SRA’s expectations are in respect of regulatory objectives, such as:
The protection and promotion of the interests of consumers,
The protection and promotion of the public interest,
Encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession, and
The promotion and maintenance of adherence to the professional principles.
The conveyancing related issues that pose the biggest risk to the SRA’s regulatory objectives are conflicts of interest, costs information, referral fees, financial stability and property related fraud and money laundering.
Initially the SRA will look to work with a firm to put issues right but they state that “enforcement action will only be used where necessary”.  The SRA are more interested in working with firms, collaboratively, rather than just finger pointing and box ticking, indicating that they will be seeking advice from other parties such as The Law Society, Lenders and also Insurers.
Firms will need to fully evaluate any potential risks to the SRA’s regulatory objections and deal with those risks appropriately, using a degree of professional judgment.
In order to address the risks the SRA will use a selection of regulatory tools, including desk based reviews and mystery shopping.  In order to assess whether publicity relating to charges is misleading or inaccurate the SRA intend to implement the use of mystery shopping.
There are also a number of ‘questions to assist’ which the SRA say highlights issues that firms may need to take into account in order that the SRA’s expectations are met.  These include training, assessment of risks and putting adequate systems and controls in place.
The strategy is currently only in draft format with a final version likely to be published in October 2011 and, although there is no formal consultation the SRA welcome any feedback on the strategy.
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