The Law Society has urged the Solicitors Regulation Authority to address what it calls ‘any credibility vacuum’ in the regulator’s attempts to build better relations with smaller firms.
The regulator is consulting the profession about how to improve its reputation among small firms, which complain of burdensome regulations and bearing the brunt of disciplinary action.
The Society’s response says the SRA should offer more advisory support as a precursor to enforcement. It also questioned the absence of any ‘safe harbour’ device. Chancery Lane also disapproves of the ‘incessant revision’ of the SRA Handbook, which has had 12 editions since September 2011, and the same individual having to take on multiple roles to satisfy regulatory objectives.
‘We would again emphasise the need for the SRA to be available to meet with small firms or sole practitioners if they are experiencing difficulties in complying with regulation,’ said the response. ‘The SRA should take a proactive, positive and practical approach to regulating small firms.’
The SRA announced its new focus in November last year and has admitted some small firms and sole practitioners believe it does not understand the problems of running a small business.