The SRA has launched what it describes as its biggest-ever consultation exercise as it seeks to engage the profession over the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) and alternative business structures (ABSs).
Both will be formally introduced on 6 October 2011 and will represent a major shift in the way solicitors are regulated: OFR is the SRA’s long-awaited move to risk-based regulation, meaning far less prescriptive rules and solicitors told what outcomes they have to achieve for clients, with leeway on how to actually achieve them.
The campaign, called ‘Freedom in Practice: Better Outcomes for Consumers’, will involve consultation papers and a series of roadshows (the details of which are below), as well as a website area providing resources and the opportunity for solicitors to put their questions to the SRA.
The first consultation, to take place in late April, will look at the broad context of OFR and regulatory practice. The second, on 28 May, will be on the new draft regulatory handbook, including licensing rules for ABSs and the new, slimmed-down Code of Conduct.
Throughout May and June the SRA will hold the free, CPD-accredited roadshows to help practitioners and managers to understand the changes and give their views to the SRA. There will also be breakout sessions for high street and commercial practices.
At the same time the SRA will work with consumer organisations to ensure that the consumer’s voice is heard throughout the consultation, and to promote understanding of the proposed changes.
SRA board chairman Charles Plant said: “The SRA’s mission is to transform regulation for the benefit of consumers. A simplified rule-book and freedom to practise innovatively will be good for clients and practitioners alike. Freedom in Practice is the profession’s opportunity to engage with the development of the new regulatory environment. The SRA is listening, and wants to hear the profession’s views.”
The roadshows will be on:
- Tuesday 25 May – London
- Wednesday 26 May – Cardiff
- Thursday 27 May – Bristol
- Tuesday 8 June – Leeds
- Wednesday 9 June – Manchester
- Thursday 10 June – Liverpool
- Tuesday 15 June – Birmingham
- Wednesday 16 June – Cambridge
- Tuesday 22 June – Exeter
- Thursday 24 June – Newcastle
To book, go to www.sra.org.uk.