We regularly report upon the actions of the SRA here on our blog, and it’s fair to say that there have been plenty of instances where the SRA has cracked down upon non-compliant law firms in the last few months. However, there’s a growing fear that – despite the best efforts of the SRA – incidents of non-compliance aren’t being reduced, but in actual fact they may even be growing in prevalence.
The Rise of Disciplinary Procedures
Apparently, the number of solicitors facing disciplinary procedures has been steadily rising year-upon-year, with as many as 90 disciplinary proceedings being opened this year, as opposed to 58 cases at this time last year. These proceedings encompass numerous grievances in the area of non-compliance, ranging from firms that are unauthorised to matters where incorrect legal advice has been given, but the uniform characteristic is that lax standards seem to be less uncommon.
One current case where the SRA has imposed a fine is reported in Legal Futures, and involves a firm in Surrey that made heavy use of stamp avoidance schemes. Apparently, these practices allowed clients to save more than £2 million, and also allowed the promoters of the scheme to surreptitiously pocket £1 million. Although the £2,000 fine might seem relatively lenient in comparison to that, it’s actually the maximum possible fine that can be imposed by the SRA at present (unless it appeals to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal), so the gesture is a serious one.
In fact, the firm in question has agreed to pay costs of as much as £5,000, and has accepted the ruling of the SRA without question, admitting that their judgement was very wrong within the matter of the discussed situation. It’s a valid point to say that many legal services have to navigate a minefield of complexities, so it’s scarcely any wonder that non-compliance occurs, but the SRA don’t look on such accidental breaches any more favourably, so you need to be on your guard.
Assistance with Compliance
If you find yourself uncertain about any facet of legal compliance, then we recommend that you come and speak to the experts here at Enderley Consulting. With many reports of non-compliance flying around, you’ll find that our assistance will really help you to stand out from the crowd. Whether you want advice in a very general sense, or need something specific like a CQS accreditation for your conveyancing service, we can help. To find out more, please contact us by calling 01939 262502 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org today.