Solicitors Regulation Authority publishes actions to ensure solicitor competence
SRA responds to LSB Statement of Policy on ongoing competence
The UK Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published a progress report and action plan on the steps it is taking to make sure that solicitors comply with their responsibilities. The report has been issued in response to the Legal Services Board’s (LSB) July 2022 Statement of Policy on the ongoing competence of legal professionals.
The LSB’s statutory Statement of Policy, which was published on 28 July 2022, details the outcomes that legal services regulators are required to meet to ensure that lawyers and solicitors have the necessary skills and knowledge, attributes and behaviours, in order to provide quality legal services.
The SRA’s progress report sets out the action it has taken to meet the four outcomes set by the LSB to ensure the ongoing competence of the individuals it regulates. The actions taken include: setting standards of competence in the Statement of Solicitor Competence; collecting evidence and identifying areas where competence may need to be improved and responding in a targeted way through proactive regulatory work; intervening where concerns are identified about standards of competence across the profession, or in specific areas; responding to individual cases of incompetence on a case-by-case basis by considering the seriousness of the case and any mitigating and aggravating factors; and taking remedial and enforcement action, such as requiring training or enhanced supervision, where appropriate.
Going forward, the SRA plans to measure the impact of its Statement of Solicitor Competence and publish an annual determination of competence identifying the most significant risks, which will inform its regulatory approach. The SRA progress report outlines specific actions it will take as it refines and broadens its approach, including: continue to build the bank of resources to help legal professionals understand the SRA’s approach and the key risks in relation to maintaining competence, which will include new best practice examples of how different types of solicitor and firms meet their obligations and regulatory case studies on how and when enforcement action for incompetence is taken; develop thematic reviews to target areas where competence is an identified risk and uncover other competence-related risks that need to be addressed; continue to review training records, focusing on high-risk areas that have been identified (for example, immigration advice and services); pilot a proactive, risk-based approach to identifying and following up with firms, where our data and information shows they may not be meeting the SRA’s competence standards.
Paul Philip, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “We expect the profession to deliver a high standard of service to those who need their help. That means we must make sure that solicitors and the employees of firms we regulate have up-to-date skills, knowledge and behaviours. During 2023, we will further improve how we identify solicitors and firms who are not meeting our expectations and work with individual solicitors and firms where we have concerns about competence. We will take enforcement action where necessary to protect consumers where standards fall short.”