Posted by Gary Yantin, Director of Best Practice for Legal Futures‘ Associate VinciWorks
The new SRA Standards and Regulations, referred to by some as STARs, have now come into full effect. Replacing the SRA Handbook, the SRA Standards and Regulations stipulate the behaviours, standards and requirements expected by solicitors and other SRA regulated people. Here is a brief outline of the changes under the new regulations.
Key changes to the SRA Handbook
SRA Principles: 10 become 7
Where previous Handbooks contained 10 principles with accompanying notes, the SRA Standards and Regulations are constructed around 7 principles which apply to all Lawyers and Individuals.
The principle to act in the best interest of the client has not changed, but a new principle of honesty has been added.
The reduction in the number of principles puts a heavier burden on individuals. The principles are considered to be the universal minimum standard for all Individuals and Lawyers to apply.
SRA Code of Conduct: 1 becomes 2
The previous Handbook was long and confusing. While there are no longer clear indicative behaviours stipulated, you must remember that you still have individual obligations.
Previous Codes of Conduct blurred the lines between Lawyer, Individual and Firm responsibilities. The existing code of conduct has been replaced with two separate codes of conduct: the Individual Code, which is applicable to Lawyers and, in some respects, to Individuals, and the Firm Code, which is applicable to Firms.
This distinction is intended to make it easier for everyone to understand the different responsibilities and obligations imposed on them by the SRA.
SRA Accounts Rules: Less is more
The SRA Accounts Rules introduced by the SRA Standards and Regulations are far simpler than previous versions. They include a different definition of client money and rules on the use of third-party managed client accounts. The SRA Accounts Rules are less prescriptive than before. For example, where the previous accounts rules stipulated prescriptive timelines for actions, the new rules place the onus upon each Firm to determine its own reasonable timelines.
The SRA Accounts Rules focus on the key objective of safeguarding client money. Firms are still required to keep client money separate from Firm money and ensure client money is only used for its intended purposes.
VinciWorks has just released five customisable SRA Standards and Regulations courses to help firms train all their staff, including support staff, on the Standards & Regulations. The courses include quizzes to test knowledge and understanding throughout the course. One of the five courses, SRA Standards and Regulations: What’s Changed?, gives a clear and concise overview of all the changes introduced by the SRA Standards and Regulations. You can try the course for free here.