SRA falling short on key target for progressing investigations

SRA: Improvement project still to take full effect

Efforts by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to speed up investigations are falling short of some of the targets introduced last year, it has emerged.

However, the regulator continues to reduce its backlog of cases that have been open for more than two years.

Last spring, the SRA introduced tougher targets for its investigators in a bid to reduce delays in processing complaints about solicitors, acknowledging that more serious cases were taking too long.

This included a key performance indicator (KPI) of resolving 70% of cases within 10 months after the initial assessment phase and early resolution process.

Its newly published performance report, covering November 2023 to March 2024, showed that it failed to meet this, with the figure ranging from 54% to 65% depending on the month. At the time the KPI was put in place, the SRA was achieving 59%.

The missed target reflected the fact that “the project improvements are yet to be fully delivered”, the report explained.

“The [investigation and enforcement] continuous improvement project went live over the summer 2023. As those ways of working have become embedded, we have moved away from regular overtime, and developed new reporting to ensure compliance with the new ways of working.

“This is the foundation for the sustainable performance improvements we are aiming for.”

The longer-standing KPIs of resolving 93% of investigations in 12 months and 95% in 18 months were met, with the KPI of 98% in 24 months achieved in three of the months and just missed in the other two.

“We have also made further progress in reducing the number of cases open for more than 24 months,” the report said. “At the end of March 2024, this had reduced to 99, and we have a target of 82 or fewer before the end of June in sight.” It was over 200 in 2022.

The assessment and early resolution team has a KPI to complete 80% of assessments within two months of being reported, which was also met in three of the months and missed in the other two. But prior to the improvement programme, the figure was 59%.

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