The focus on law firms in the assigned risks pool has led to a significant fall in the number of other monitoring visits conducted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Legal Futures can report.
The SRA says the move is an example of its shift towards risk-based regulation.
The SRA’s latest performance update shows that the practice standards unit (PSU) – which carries out monitoring – conducted 240 visits in the third quarter of 2010, a relatively high number, but 87 of which were in support of the SRA’s assigned risks pool enforcement strategy.
The SRA’s website contains performance figures from 2007 and Legal Futures research indicates that the 153 ‘regular’ monitoring visits is the lowest quarterly figures since those records were first published. Firms are chosen for monitoring through profiling and also from referrals by the SRA’s risk assessment and designation centre.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: “The practice standards unit has spearheaded the SRA’s enforcement drive on the assigned risks pool, which has involved a considerable amount of preparatory work and follow-up visits. There has been an inevitable reduction in the team’s normal visiting programme, and this is part of our strategy to focus our resources on where we identify the principal risks. We have also brought in accountancy expertise from KPMG to help in this important work.
“This approach has resulted in recovery of a substantial amount of outstanding premiums and a reduction in the number of firms in the ARP, improving public protection and reducing costs to the profession.”