The Solicitors Regulation Authority is reviewing its options after the Ministry of Justice declined its request for tougher fining powers against ‘traditional’ law firms.
In May, the regulator applied to the MoJ to have the maximum fine it can impose on law firms raised from £2,000 to £250m, the threshold that already applies to alternative business structures.
Although the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal already has the power to impose unlimited fines, the regulator stressed that the proposals would benefit firms that have committed breaches deserving a punishment more substantial than a £2,000 fine but which are not serious enough to warrant suspension or strike-off. The SRA’s average costs in bringing an SDT case are £8,000.
An SRA spokesman said: ‘Our proposal [regarding] the fining regime for traditional firms was about ensuring the robust and transparent fining regime we have for ABS organisations could be applied equally to traditional firms. If matters were dealt with in-house, then we could be quicker than the SDT and save firms the additional costs of having matters heard by the tribunal.
‘The MoJ has included the caveat that it would be willing to look at some other changes in the fining regime and we will look at the options available.’