The Law Society has accused the Solicitors Regulation Authority of ignoring solicitors' views in a forthright criticism of the regulator's approach.
In a response to the SRA’s consultation on its three-year strategy, Chancery Lane took the opportunity to address a number of concerns about the current regulatory climate.
The Law Society asked for more analysis of the snowballing effects of constant change on the profession, as well as the effects on individuals and firms.
The response noted: ‘At the moment there is a danger that much of the uncertainty facing solicitors and firms is being driven by the actions of the regulator and the cumulative impact on the profession is not being assessed.
‘There is a risk that constant regulatory change has an economic impact, as firms and solicitors adjust to and implement new requirements.’
The Society reopened the thorny issue of solicitors working in unauthorised firms. The SRA has been keen to increase competition and ensure solicitors can have greater choice about where they practise.
The solicitors’ representative said the SRA does not have an understanding of the likely number of practitioners who would switch to an unregulated provider, nor the number of extra consumers who would benefit.
On a similar theme, the Society said it welcomed innovation, but said the SRA should distinguish between encouraging firms and solicitors to find more ways to meet client needs, and what it called the ‘false pursuit’ of innovation which allows client protections to be discarded or diluted.
The Society challenged the SRA to ask itself what exactly is the problem that reforms are seeking to address, and what risks are created by doing so.
It implored regulators not to ignore solicitors and said trust in the SRA was an important issue that underpins much of the strategy.
Indeed, the Society said the SRA must use the next three years to build trust with the profession. ‘We do not expect that the SRA will always agree with the views of the profession,’ the response states. ‘However, it is reasonable to expect a degree of modification in the face of consistent and widespread feedback from stakeholders.
‘At times our members have felt that their views and evidence have been dismissed by the SRA.’