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Law Society launches “must-read” guidance on new SRA rulebook

12 September 2019

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The Law Society has published two “must-read” practice notes designed to help solicitors adapt to the imminent overhaul of the regulations governing solicitors.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) existing handbook is set to be replaced by new Standards and Regulations on 25 November 2019.

Shorter than the current handbook, the new set of rules include provisions which will allow solicitors to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis and carry out non-reserved legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator.

Two separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors will be published, along with a simplified set of Accounts Rules that focuses on the principles of keeping client money safe, rather than specific and prescriptive technical rules. All regulated firms which run a website will be mandatorily required to use the SRA Digital Badge.

“We are working hard to make sure that solicitors understand the full implications of the changes,” said Law Society president Simon Davis (pictured). “Our new practice notes – one on freelance solicitors, the other on working in unregulated entities – are a must-read for our members regardless of whether they are attracted to working in these new ways.”

Solicitors working in a regulated practice, he continued, may find themselves dealing with a counterpart in an unregulated entity or with a freelancer representing the other party. “The new handbook is opening to the door to different tiers of solicitors operating under different requirements for professional indemnity insurance, different protections for clients and, possibly, differences over where the compensation fund applies.”

He added: “The situation will vary depending on whether you are in a traditional law firm, practising in an unregulated commercial entity or if you plan to take advantage of the new model of being a freelance solicitor. One of the key concerns we have had is that the simplicity and clarity of the current system will be lost, leaving clients confused about the protections offered by the solicitor they engage and then, if they are let down, potentially left without recourse.”

The Law Society will be running seminars, roadshows, roundtables and conferences on the new rules around the country throughout 2019 and into 2020.

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