SRA's Question of Trust campaign closes with "thousands of responses"

The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) has closed what it says is one of its biggest consultations ever, having heard “thousands of responses” from members of the public and solicitors alike.

The SRA say they received 2,350 online survey responses to their Question of Trust campaign with 3,000 attendees to events around England and Wales.

The regulator say they will be reporting on the outcomes into the consultation in the summer, with the aim to be to develop a reference framework to use when making decisions such as when to refer cases to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

SRA CEO Paul Philip said: “This is a landmark campaign that has really engaged people. Regulation is part of the social contract between the profession and the public and it important that we calibrate and validate what we do. Thank you to the thousands of solicitors and members of the public who have helped us with this.

“We asked people about what should happen when things go wrong. I believe that clear, consistent and transparent decision making is fundamental to good regulation and we are reviewing our end to end procedures accordingly. Our new reference framework will help staff and the profession alike.

“We refer the most serious cases to the SDT. The Tribunal is rightly independent and our campaign was not about how it operates. It was about stimulating a debate on the standards the public can expect of solicitors. Of course, each case must turn on its merits and we have a right of appeal where we think the Tribunal has got it wrong.

“A Question of Trust addressed the big issues at the heart of regulation and shows that there is real public interest in the high standards expected of solicitors. Testing what we do with the profession and the public increases public confidence, not only in regulation but in the profession itself.”

However not all parties have been entirely impressed with the consultation exercise.

The City of London Law Society published their response, part of which read: “As City of London based, large commercial firms we also worry that the scenarios that have been considered to-date, involving conduct relating to legal practice (as opposed to conduct issues arising in an individual’s private life which are more likely to be shared across the profession), are far removed from the day-to-day issues faced by lawyers and others in large commercial firms.

“The framework of suggested responses may appear irrelevant or insufficiently tailored to the very different working environment and set of issues and concerns that tend to arise when working for sophisticated corporate and banking clients.

“The consultation expressly states that it is focused on concerns about individuals and indeed its content and the scenarios in the SRA’s online survey, seem to be relevant mainly to practising solicitors and others involved directly in the delivery of advice to clients. It does not yet address concerns about firm/entity behaviours or breaches which the SRA say they will get to subsequently.

“For the large commercial firms working in the City of London, as well as for many other firms no doubt, the impact on the firm as an authorised body and the inter-relationship between the SRA’s concerns about individuals and associated concerns about the firm/entity is very important.

“We find it difficult to comment sensibly in the consultation on what is only one part of the full picture.”

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