The new chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has vowed to look again at the burden of regulation placed on solicitors.
In his first interview since taking on the role last month, Paul Philip acknowledged that many firms feel they are asked to do too much to comply with regulations.
Philip (pictured) said it was ‘laudable’ that the SRA wanted to be proactive, as it was when it wrote to 2,000 firms last year asking for financial information, but he wanted to reassess the current approach.
‘There is a burden,’ he said. ‘The question is whether it’s proportionate. I want to review the model of regulation. I want to look at whether one size fits all is right and proportionate. I’m not 100% convinced it is.
‘I want to look at the amounts of information the organisation asks for from firms and individuals and ask honest questions about whether it is too bureaucratic and what we do with the information we have.’
Philip indicated he may review requirements for professional indemnity insurance in the light of so many firms not renewing their cover last year.
‘It’s certainly something we should look at. What are the levels and what is the financial burden? How much does it impose on smaller firms and how much risk does that pose to consumer protection?’
The new SRA boss, previously chief operating officer of medical regulator the General Medical Council, said he wanted better relations with the legal profession – including the Law Society – than in the past.
He added: ‘Self-regulation is most definitely dead – there is an inherent conflict between representative bodies and regulators working in the public interest. But that is not to say we could not work closer together to achieve the aspiration of working with the profession.
‘I know there have been tensions [with the Law Society] in the past because both organisations have a different purpose. But the standing of the profession is in the public interest.’
Philip said the medical profession had experienced 156 years of separation between representative body and regulator – but doctors still maintained a strong voice in decision-making.
‘Although regulation is independent, the idea we could ignore the views of the people we regulated was a misnomer,’ he added. ‘We engaged very heavily with the BMA.’
- Read the full interview with Paul Philip