The review of legal regulation commissioned by the Law Society is likely to recommend that the Solicitors Regulation Authority carry out more pre-emptive and advisory visits to firms, especially those deemed to be ‘at risk’, its author has revealed.
Lord Hunt of Wirral , the man tasked with reviewing legal regulation, told the Gazette that he wants the legal profession to be seen as a ‘beacon of integrity’.
Today (5 May), he outlines his current thinking before making his final report in the summer. Hunt does not indicate which regulatory model he would choose for corporate firms – the subject of a separate, recently published review by Nick Smedley but he told the Gazette that he is ‘inclined to agree’ with Smedley that setting up a completely separate regulator for corporate firms is unlikely to work.
Hunt may recommend that alternative business structures (ABSs) should initially be subject to the same regulatory regime as corporate firms. He may also recommend that all ABSs should be required to appoint a designated head of regulatory affairs, at board level or equivalent.
Hunt said his final report may also recommend that:In the second and final phase of his consultation, Hunt said he will consider whether regulation could be extended to cover will-writing, probate work, certain commercial work, and certain types of legal helpline. He will also ask for submissions on the ‘contents, tenor and the general accessibility’ of the SRA’s rulebook.
- The SRA should set up a new body to consider complaints against itself;
- The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal should play a more active role in the broader regulatory process;
- The SRA should develop a ‘compliance toolkit’ for firms;
- The SRA should be more explicit about the range of sanctions available to it;
- There should be a single code of practice for the regulatory arm, and a single code for the representative arm; and
- The SRA should return to providing solicitors with named individuals and/or groups with whom to deal, in place of the ‘existing, rather anonymous, call centre’.
Further responses for Hunt’s review can be submitted until the end of June.