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Raising concerns and whistleblowing - guidance for staff

Last updated: 13 January 2016

This practice note includes detailed advice on:

  • the regulatory obligations on solicitors to raise concerns and report to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)  
  • advice for individuals on how to raise concerns about the about the actions of their firm or organisation

Update notes

What has changed?

  • this practice note was previously called 'Raising concerns and whistleblowing'  
  • this practice note has been re-cast and is aimed at solicitors looking to raise concerns about their firm  
  • guidance for firms on their regulatory obligations to report concerns to the SRA, and how to implement a whistleblowing policy, can be found in a separate practice note on Implementing whistleblowing arrangements

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

The following sections of the SRA Handbook and in the SRA Code apply:

  • principle 2 - act with integrity  
  • principle 6 - behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you, and in the provision of legal services  
  • principle 7- comply with your legal and regulatory obligations, and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner

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.

COLP - Compliance officer for legal practice

COFA - Compliance officer for finance and administration

SRA Code - SRA Code of Conduct 2011

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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Practice Advice Service

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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