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SRA publishes new Enforcement Strategy

We have published an updated Enforcement Strategy, which explains when and how we would take action against a law firm or solicitor.

The Strategy aims to provide the public and profession with greater clarity on how we decide whether to act in a given case, and what factors we consider in deciding the seriousness of misconduct and the action to take.

To support this we have also made public a number of internal reference documents, known as ‘topic guides‘, which summarise the main mitigating and aggravating factors we take into account when considering cases in a number of common areas.

These documents cover areas such as solicitors being convicted of criminal offences, drink driving, misusing social media, or failing to comply with the SRA Transparency Rules.

Our approach has been informed by more than three years of engagement, including our Question of Trust campaign, where we gathered the views of more than 5,400 members of the public and profession.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Our revised Enforcement Strategy is designed to make it clear about what we do and when. It sets out the type of situations where we need to step in to protect the public. It will give the profession confidence that we consider and take action in an open, fair and consistent way.”

Released alongside the enforcement strategy, we have also published proposed changes to the wording of our rules regarding when firms should report cases of potential misconduct (PDF 1MB,186 pages).

We publicly consulted on these rule changes last year, after it became apparent that law firms were interpreting the existing rules in different ways.

The rule changes make it clear that firms should apply their professional judgement to decide whether potential misconduct may have taken place and that they should then report the issues as soon as possible.

In response to feedback around concerns that individuals reporting potential misconduct may be victimised, the rules make it absolutely clear that nobody should face detrimental treatment for making, or proposing to make, a report.

We received around 12,000 reports of potential misconduct a year, with around half coming directly from law firms. The remainder come from the public, intelligence gathering and referrals from other authorities.

Paul Philip added: “Timely reporting of serious concerns is a key part of public protection. Our new rules make it clear that solicitors and law firms should report potential misconduct promptly.”