The Law Society has welcomed the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) draft 2021-2022 business plan and budget, which focuses on anti-money laundering (AML), diversity, inclusion, technology and innovation.

Law Society president, I. Stephanie Boyce (pictured), said: “We are pleased to see the SRA prioritising its work and resources on its core regulatory function – ensuring high professional standards of competence.

“The regulator is expected to focus on implementing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, AML, diversity, inclusion, technology and innovation. All of these areas align with the Law Society’s priorities”.

Boyce said the Law Society would welcome the opportunity to work with the regulator and that she hoped they could work together to ensure efforts are coordinated.

She added: “The SRA also proposes to more clearly segment the market when considering regulatory issues, which we support, as this should lead to a better understanding of the impact and cost of regulation across different legal practice types or size of providers. This should help to ensure that the way SRA regulates is fair, proportionate and inclusive.

On the issue of the SRA’s enforcement work, she said: “In principle, we support work on improving the quality of monitoring the SRA’s enforcement workstreams, however, we question how truly independent an ‘internal quality assurance team’ will be”.

She recommended the SRA appoint an external auditor to ensure decision-making is unbiased and independent. She said: “This would enhance confidence and credibility within the profession”.

Boyce welcomed a focus on access to justice: “It’s encouraging to see access to justice will be a focus across all its work, and we would welcome the SRA’s support in our call for investment in the justice system, particularly in legal aid as a necessary and central element to increase access to justice.

She concluded: “As the profession continues to adapt the way it works during the pandemic, we look forward to working with the SRA on the issues affecting our members today and helping them manage their business in the future.”

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