Consultation on the 2022-2023 SRA Business Plan and Budget – Response from the Law Society

Proposals

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Business Plan 2022/23 reflects the SRA’s three strategic priorities:

  • set and maintain high standards for the profession
  • support the adoption of technology and innovation
  • prioritize initiatives that positively impact access to justice and improve equality, diversity and inclusion within the profession and in the legal services sector

SRA work streams for 2022/23 include:

  • complete the Lawyers Qualifying Examination (SQE) assessments, monitor the impact of the SQE, and finalize its approach to publishing candidate performance data
  • continue to improve advocacy standards and develop the accreditation program for police station representatives around a statement of expected behaviors
  • improve their insight to inform their approach to assessing continued competence
  • advancing actions resulting from the assessment of SRA transparency rules and standards and regulations
  • provide post-consultation findings on SRA fine powers, publication of regulatory decisions, and health and welfare considerations within law firms
  • consultation on the rules aimed at protecting consumers against excessive charges when making certain complaints about financial services
  • strengthen work on anti-money laundering, with proposals to increase the number of business inspections, refine risk scoring methodology and meet any new legislative requirements
  • continue work aimed at implementing the recommendations of competition and market authorities aimed at improving the transparency of information for consumers, including the improvement of quality indicators, while drawing lessons from the declaration of principle of the Legal Service Board

The SRA also sought advice on its budget, certificate fee practice and compensation fund.

The SRA is proposing that its share of the practice certificate fee be increased from £185 to £181 in 2022/23.

Our point of view

SRA Priorities

We are delighted that the SRA is continuing its work on policy areas that align with our priorities, including:

  • the SQE
  • fight against money laundering
  • diversity and inclusion
  • technology and innovation

We are keen to work closely with the SRA to maximize efforts and avoid duplication.

We are also encouraged by his plans to engage in debates and speak out on:

  • access to justice
  • environmental, social and governance issues
  • broader challenges facing the legal sector

The SRA’s support of our campaign to invest in the justice system would be particularly welcome, particularly in legal aid as a central part of improving access to justice.

We are also open to collaboration around climate change policy and horizon scanning to combine our experiences and specialties and help members navigate future regulatory complexity and anticipate change.

In principle, we welcome the prioritization of work and resources over the SRA’s core regulatory function of ensuring high professional standards of competence.

Lawyers Compensation Fund

We are pleased that the SRA has decided to extend the life of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) for a further 12 months after hearing our concerns and those of the profession and consumers.

Approach to fine powers and well-being

However, we have real concerns about the SRA’s approach to areas such as fine powers and health and welfare considerations within law firms.

We are particularly disappointed that the SRA intends to seek an increase in its fine powers of more than 1000% without balancing these changes with appropriate safeguards.

Likewise, we do not support the SRA’s proposals for new regulatory powers to address welfare issues.

We want to continue collaborating with the SRA, sharing members’ views and experiences to ensure that SRA’s proposals are evidence-based, soundly evaluated, fair and proportionate.

Next steps

The consultation closed on June 17.

We look forward to working with the SRA on issues that affect our members now and in the future.

Read more about SRA’s 2022/23 Business Plan Consultation