Separation would be better for both of us, SRA leaders tell Law Society


Enid Rowlands

Rowlands: important that profession is “strongly represented”

The leaders of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have made it clear that they believe it would be better for the public and the profession if they had complete independence from the Law Society.

The Treasury announced earlier this week that the government would consult next year on “making legal service regulators independent from their representative bodies”.

SRA chair Enid Rowlands said: “It’s not about us not getting on with the Law Society. I believe in the Law Society and I think it is really important that the profession is strongly represented.

“But the Law Society and the regulator have separate purposes. Making us truly independent would bolster public confidence and make things easier for the Law Society to be a representative body.”

Speaking after yesterday’s SRA board meeting, Ms Rowlands said appointments to the SRA board, including the appointment of chair, had to be approved by the society’s ruling council which could, in theory, say it did not want a chair with “certain views”.

She said regulation must be impartial to come to “fair conclusions” on issues such as opening up entry to the profession, and making sure it is as diverse and competitive as possible.

Responding to the Treasury’s plans, Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon argued for self-regulation, and said the profession should be free to set its own standards and rules, and to “own” legal education and training.

However Paul Philip, chief executive of the SRA, said the regulator believed “independent regulation would be better”.

He went on: “The current arrangements are a huge improvement on what was there before, but making the legal regulators independent is very important from a public perspective.

“We’re a public interest regulator. It is difficult to see how an organisation that represents the profession can uphold public confidence.”

Mr Philip said that as well as the society’s role in approving SRA appointments, there was currently no legal separation between the society and the SRA.

In a separate development, Mr Philip said the second phase of the regulator’s Handbook review would include the way in which fees were paid by solicitors, particularly the split between practising certificate fees paid by individuals and the turnover-based entity fee.

“We need to review this to make sure it’s the right way to go forward in the future,” he said.

Mr Philip described the current system of charging individuals a flat fee and firms a fee based on an “algorithm” as a “one size fits all” approach.

He warned that a lot of legal work could end up “out of reach” of the firm fee if it was handled by legal process outsourcers.

The fees review features in the SRA’s business plan for November 2015 to October 2016, which was approved at yesterday’s board meeting.

Tags:




Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog


A new route to practice rights for chartered legal executives

Following approval from the Legal Services Board in May 2022, CILEx Regulation has launched an alternative route for chartered legal executives to obtain independent practice rights.


NFTs, the courts and the role of injunctions

In May, news broke that a non-fungible token was the subject of a successful injunction made by the Singapore High Court. The NFT in question is part of the very valuable Bored Ape Yacht Club series.


Matthew Pascall

Low-value commercial cases – an achievable challenge for ATE insurers

There are many good claims brought for damages that are likely to be significantly less than twice the cost of bringing the claim. These cases present a real challenge for insurers.


Loading animation