The Law Society has told the Solicitors Regulation Authority to stick to its core role amid plans by the regulator to involve itself with wider issues affecting the legal profession.
In an otherwise broadly supportive assessment of the SRA’s three-year strategy, the Law Society stresses the need to ‘maintain focus’ on promoting the public interest and ensuring a strong, independent and diverse sector.
As well as setting and maintaining standards, the SRA has proposed becoming involved with technology and innovation, looking in more detail at unmet legal need, investigating consumer concerns and raising public awareness of legal services.
The Society response states: ‘We agree that the public trust in the legal system is crucial, and the strategy presents an opportunity to build more trust between the regulator, the profession and the public.
‘The SRA should therefore focus on its core regulatory function of ensuring high, professional standards of competence rather than diverting too high a proportion of its resource to other strands of work.’
The Society notes it will be vital that the SRA ensures adequate guidance and assistance to solicitors and firms, setting out what is expected of them and how they can stay compliant. This will help to ensure appropriate conduct, protect the public and avoid misunderstanding or disputes with the regulator.
It encourages the SRA to engage more effectively with the profession in a ‘constructive and positive manner’ to smooth the process of implementing any future reforms. While the Society says it is keen to work closely with the SRA on identifying risk areas, it cautions against the regulator increasing costs by duplicating work.
The Society says the SRA and the solicitors profession would benefit from a ‘greater focus’ on the quality and consistency of decision making, and the regulator should ensure individuals making decisions on cases are ‘appropriately trained and qualified’.
In addition, the Society recommends the SRA publishes details on how it intends to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of its work.
The response adds: ‘One of the measures should include the level of solicitor satisfaction with the SRA.’
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