The Solicitors Regulation Authority has yet to meet improvement targets, including on transparency, months after they were brought to wider attention, it has emerged. Oversight regulator the Legal Services Board revealed last week that none of the outcomes assessed as unmet in January could yet be classed as being met.
In total, the LSB earmarked 26 areas of improvement across all regulators, three of which were specifically related to the SRA.
Since the initial assessment, the LSB has met with each regulatory body and encouraged them to come up with action plans for improvement.
As yet, the Bar Standards Board and Council for Licensed Conveyancers have met one outcome each, and the LSB says it is ‘reassured’ that progress is being made on the rest.
The next review is in November, by when, the LSB says, it will expect ‘significant improvement’ to have been made.
In January the LSB told the solicitors' regulator that it had to do more to ensure the list of those it regulates is accessible, accurate and provides information on disciplinary records. It was also told to be more transparent about its own decision-making and regulatory approach.
Another requirement was for the SRA to develop a new approach to assuring the continuing competence of solicitor advocates.
The LSB’s judgement that the SRA is still failing on the final two outcomes is noteworthy, given the SRA has moved in recent weeks to improve on both.
On transparency, the SRA has committed to giving more information and changing the way it communicates with solicitors.
On the competence of solicitor advocates, last month the SRA published a consultation on advocacy standards with proposals ‘to make sure that high standards of advocacy are provided by solicitors’.
In response to the LSB’s latest appraisal, an SRA spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the LSB’s assessment that we are making good progress towards meeting the three out of 26 performance areas where we need to do more.’