The Solicitors Regulation Authority should become an independent entity, separate from the Law Society, the regulator has said in response to a call for views on reviewing the governance structure set up under the Legal Services Act.
At present, the SRA and Law Society are independently-run operating divisions of the Law Society Group. Responding this week to a Legal Service Board consultation on reviewing internal governance rules, the SRA says this arrangement has generated 'a steady stream of disagreements about independence'.
Instead, the regulator proposes 'a separate entity model to ensure a complete separation of governance, operations and resources, including a separate balance sheet and financial reporting mechanism. This would provide us with greater control, and therefore the ability to deliver our functions efficiently and cost-effectively', its response states.
The SRA notes that last October the Law Society Council agreed reforms which increase the extent to which the SRA can act independently in the public interest, while remaining within the overarching Law Society Group structure. 'While we welcome this progress, we know more needs to be done to meet the public expectation that regulation should be independent,' the response states.
'The longer-term ambition must be standalone, independent regulation with clear lines of accountability to the public we serve. This could be through the scrutiny of a select committee, or perhaps oversight by the judiciary,' it proposes.
The SRA has already carried out 'early feasibility work' on establishing a separate entity, the response states. 'The indications are that transition would be straightforward and cost effective.'
In its consultation response, the Society backs the governance rules being reformed to create greater clarity about the roles of different regulatory bodies.