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Outsourcing

29 April 2015

This practice note includes detailed advice on:

  • Outsourcing, providing an overview of what it is.
  • Examples of outsourcing activities, and other relevant information on confidentiality, management of your practice and risk assessment.  

Legal status

This practice note is the Law Society's view of good practice in this area. It is not legal advice.

Practice notes are issued by the Law Society for the use and benefit of its members. They represent the Law Society's view of good practice in a particular area. They are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You are not required to follow them, but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries or comments on this practice note contact the Law Society's Practice Advice Service.

Professional conduct

All of the SRA Code is relevant to this issue, but particularly:

  • Chapter 4 on Confidentiality and disclosure
  • Chapter 7 on Management of your business

 

SRA Principles

There are ten mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice. The principles can be found in the SRA Handbook.

The principles apply to solicitors or managers of authorised bodies who are practising from an office outside the UK. They also apply if you are a lawyer-controlled body practising from an office outside the UK.

You must take into account all of the SRA's principles when you or your practice are thinking about entering an outsourcing arrangement and ensure that any arrangement does not prevent you from adhering to any of the principles. You should always bear in mind what the ten principles are and use them as your starting point when implementing the outcomes.

The following principles are particularly relevant to outsourcing arrangements:

  • Principle 5- provide a proper standard of service to your clients
  • Principle 7- comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner
  • Principle 8- run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles

Terminology

Must - A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, outcome or other mandatory provision in the SRA Handbook. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA Handbook.

Should - Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society's view. In the case of the SRA Handbook, an indicative behaviour or other non-mandatory provision (such as may be set out in notes or guidance).

These may not be the only means of complying with legislative or regulatory requirements and there may be situations where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to oversight bodies why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, either for your practice, or in the particular retainer.

May - A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations or running your practice. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You may be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to oversight bodies.

SRA Code - SRA Code of Conduct 2011

2007 Code - Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007

OFR - Outcomes-focused regulation

SRA - Solicitors Regulation Authority

IB - Indicative behaviour

The Law Society also provides a full glossary of other terms used throughout this practice note

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The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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