Solicitors' regulator launches discussion paper on the future of SIF
The future of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) is being discussed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), as it considers next steps for the fund and consumer protection for negligence claims brought more than six years after a firm has closed.
After extensive lobbying from the Law Society of England and Wales and other stakeholders, the SRA deferred the closure of SIF until September 2023. The Law Society argued its closure would have a detrimental impact on consumers, and could leave them unable to secure redress on the rare occasion something goes wrong.
The SRA’s new discussion paper outlines options on future consumer protection and asks for views on any future arrangements.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We welcome the SRA taking the next step of looking at how consumers of legal services can continue to be protected.
“The SRA has also recognised that consumers could face serious detriment if post six-year claims are left unaddressed.
“People go to solicitors for support and advice during significant events in their lives – the death or injury of a loved one, family breakdown, a house purchase or estate planning.
“They do so rightly confident that solicitors are highly qualified and regulated. Consumers trust their solicitor is adequately and appropriately insured, and that they will be compensated for any losses on the rare occasion something goes wrong.”
The Legal Services Board recently published consumer research into professional indemnity insurance (PII).*
The oversight regulator found that: “Consumers have low awareness of the existing arrangements in place to protect them when using legal services. There is a tacit assumption that such protection is simply part-and-parcel of the service/system. Whilst many were not aware of the exact nature of these arrangements, they tended to have taken it on trust that they would be protected in some way.”
I. Stephanie Boyce concluded: “Low consumer awareness about the details of PII arrangements coupled with the public’s high expectations of the profession make it all the more important that such protections are in place.
“That is why the Law Society looks forward to working constructively with the SRA to find a solution that will provide a satisfactory outcome for solicitors and their clients, which will help maintain trust in the legal services sector into the future.”
Notes to editors
The SIF extension runs till September 2023
Feedback for the discussion paper is due by 31 August.
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