SRA reports on final stage of Handbook overhaul

The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) has published its findings from its consultation with members in May this year.
The SRA proposes changes to the new SRA Code of Conduct (the Code) and other sets of rules in the Handbook, moving towards new broader principles. The deadline for responses to this consultation is 13 January 2011. The SRA experienced a large number and wide variety of comments, with some key themes emerging.
There has been strong agreement with proposals to implement a common standard of consumer protection across traditional law firms and ABSs and a broad welcome for the outcomes-focused Code. There was support for the focus on the consumer and the broader public interest. However the SRA also experienced concern as to whether it has the appropriate expertise and systems to implement successfully OFR in the time available, and as to the regulated community’s ability to prepare itself for OFR within the ambitious timetable which has been set. Firms also request guidance to help them understand the SRA expectations and to achieve the right outcomes for clients.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend (pictured) said: "The new Code of Conduct and the outcomes-focused approach to regulation have been generally welcomed, with strong agreement with our proposals to have a common standard of consumer protection for all types of law firms, whether traditional or ABSs." "Our programme to transform regulation remains on track for 2011. The reforms will help us identify and concentrate on the areas of highest risk, help firms focus on the quality of service to consumers, and bring greater flexibility for well-managed firms, enabling them to deliver services in ways suited to their clients and type of business."
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