Monday, December 9, 2019

Reporting Breaches to the SRA - Update

We recently sent a request to the SRA to clarify the reporting of breaches by non-solicitors under the new Standards and Regulations and have now received a response.

The response stated that non-solicitor employees WILL be covered by the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms, and that if they believe that they or someone else within their firm has done something that amounts to a serious breach of the rules they should report this promptly and directly to the SRA. In this scenario, there is no option to report via the COLP/COFA as there is with solicitors who reasonably believe their compliance officer(s) will report to the SRA on their behalf.

The SRA has said that the effect of the Code is that a non-solicitor employee cannot turn a blind eye to serious unethical behaviour within a law firm.

The SRA is developing its understanding of how the new rules will apply to particular situations, and that it is anticipated that further guidance will be published over the coming months.

It would not be surprising if the SRA provided guidance, which in effect said that reporting of serious breaches would be the same as for solicitors, but time will tell; without such guidance it is envisaged that non-solicitor employees will make reports to the SRA to cover their backs, with the first the firm knowing about it being when the SRA makes contact, which does not really help anyone! 

Since writing this article the SRA has issued guidance in this area - https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/guidance/ethics-guidance/reporting-notification-obligations/

Don’t forget!

You must now display the SRA’s digital logo on your website (if you have one). The SRA confirmed at its recent Compliance Officers Conference that, as at 30.10.19, only 4 in 10 firms were currently using the digital logo. It will be interesting to see if this number increases now that the logo is a mandatory requirement!

Ensure that your link to the SRA rules has been updated in accordance with regulation 9 of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, from the SRA Handbook 2011 to the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019.

Please see our December 2019 Product Update article for more information on the changes we have introduced to the Breaches module within our RIsk and Compliance system, following the introduction of the SRA Standards and Regulations.

Upcoming event

12 December 2019 - ‘SRA Standards & Regulations (STaRs) are with us; where are you on your journey to the STaRs?

Register at: https://pages.theaccessgroup.com/STaRS-webinar.html