SRA calls on government to provide more clarity over referral fee ban

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

1 February 2012

Townsend: clear challenges in implementing ban

The government needs to provide further clarity and guidance on how the ban on referral fees will operate in practice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has warned.

The call came following a roundtable event in London yesterday organised by the SRA in which representatives from government, regulators, claims management companies, insurers and law firms debated how the ban could best be implemented.

The ban – which only affects personal injury work – is in part two of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, implementation of which the government announced this week would be delayed by six months to April 2013. The bill requires regulators such as the SRA to enforce the ban.

SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said regulators and other interested parties must work together to ensure the ban will operate consistently and effectively in the public interest.

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 14)

Mr Townsend told participants: “There are clear challenges associated with carrying out the government’s proposal on referral fees. We are not here to debate the rights and wrongs of the ban. Our

aim today, and in the future, is to work towards adopting a workable and consistent approach to implementing it.”

Key issues highlighted in feedback, following group discussions, included the need for further clarity and guidance on how the ban will operate in practice – including the definition of referral fees and enforcement policy – timescales for introduction and further analysis of the potential impact the ban may have on the market.

Deborah Evans, chief executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, told the event: “Care must be taken to ensure that working arrangements under a ban are practical and do not put the consumer at risk through overly speedy implementation. Firms need clarity on what they can and can’t do and sufficient time to change their business arrangements.”

The SRA said it will brief the Ministry of Justice on the issues raised at the forum, and publish a discussion paper in the spring, once the bill receives final parliamentary approval.

Other organisations represented at the event were: Ministry of Justice, HM Treasury, Office of Fair Trading, Legal Services Board, Financial Services Authority, Bar Standards Board, Law Society, Association of British Insurers, Claims Standards Council, Motor Accident Solicitors Society, Association of Regulated Claims Management Companies, National Accident Helpline, Accident Advice Helpline, AXA Insurance, Amelans/InjuryLawyers4U, Spencers Solicitors and Minster Law Solicitors.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “SRA calls on government to provide more clarity over referral fee ban”

  1. Janet Paraskeva, Chief Executive of the Law Society in 2004, said after the referral ban had been lifted:

    “We welcome the fact that such a complex situation has been clarified and solicitors now know the position; the new rules would be ‘clear, enforceable and in the public interest”.

    If it was recognised in 2004 that a ban was unworkable what makes the government think it will be workable now?

  2. Brian Rogers on February 1st, 2012 at 12:51 pm
  3. Brian – It’s easy to wish for the impossible from a position of ignorance.

  4. Malcolm Roberts on February 2nd, 2012 at 8:04 am

Legal Futures Blog

Delivering a first-class service experience

Helen Hamilton Shaw 2

I visit a lot of different businesses in the course of my job – both law firms and other types of organisations. This gives me a unique opportunity to compare how the legal sector is shaping up against the commercial world in how they welcome visitors to their business, and it’s fair to say that those that go the extra mile certainly stand out.

October 21st, 2016