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When do solicitors fail to uphold the rule of law?

The SRA and SDT must establish a clear definition of principle 1, so that solicitors aren't punished twice in different jurisdictions for the same act, argues Susanna Heley

17 May 2016

There should be nothing objectionable about principle 1 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Principles 2011. It reads: 'You must uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.'

It should be entirely uncontroversial that solicitors, as officers of the court, should be concerned with the proper administration of justice and the rule of law in civilised society. But that rather raises the question of what, precisely, we mean by 'the rule of law' and 'the proper administration of justice'. These are two distinct concepts which need to be examined and defined: it is not right to suggest that the breach of a law (any law) automatically amounts to a failure to uphold the rule of law.Part of the role of solicitors is to challenge the issue and interpretation of rules and laws which are unjust or have been applied or interpreted unreasonably. Is challenging an obviously unjust law failing to uphold the rule of law? What of breaking t...

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