Solicitors’ leaders are concerned about the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) plans to increase its fining powers by more than 1,000%, as they respond to the SRA’s 2022/2023 business plan and budget consultation.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce offered her support for several key elements of the business plan:
“In principle, we welcome the SRA’s ongoing prioritisation of its core regulatory function of ensuring high professional standards of competence.
We are particularly pleased the SRA decided to extend the life of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) for a further 12 months after hearing the profession’s and consumers’ concerns about the loss of such a protection.
Meanwhile, the SRA will continue to focus on anti-money laundering, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, diversity and inclusion, and technology and innovation, policy areas which align with the Law Society’s own priorities.”
Yet, the Law Society president was keen to convey her and the Society’s concerns about several areas of the plan, most notably the regulator’s planned hike in fining powers:
“We do, however, have real concerns about the approach the SRA is taking in a number of areas, such as fining powers and health and wellbeing considerations in law firms.
We are particularly disappointed the SRA is continuing to seek to increase its fining powers by more than 1,000 per cent without balancing these changes with appropriate safeguards.
Similarly, we do not support the SRA’s proposals of new regulatory powers to address issues around wellbeing, as these changes are not supported by evidence.
We are keen to continue close engagement with the SRA in these areas, providing insights informed by our members’ views and experiences to ensure the SRA’s proposals are evidence-led, robustly impact assessed, fair and proportionate.”