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Setting up a practice: regulatory requirements

2 December 2019
This practice note outlines the regulatory requirements to consider when setting up your practice. 

Legal status

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations 2019 replaced the SRA Handbook (2011) on 25 November 2019. Accordingly, this practice note is relevant to all law firms and sole practitioners authorised by the SRA. It’s also relevant to individual solicitors, registered European lawyers (RELs) and registered foreign lawyers (RFLs), wherever they practise.

We issue practice notes for the use and benefit of our members. They represent our 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’re 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 our Practice Advice Service.

SRA Principles

There are seven mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice.

The principles apply to all authorised individuals (solicitors, RELs and RFLs), authorised firms and their managers and employees. They also apply to individuals and the parts of a licensed body involved in delivering the regulated services

Professional conduct

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

Terminology

Must - A specific requirement in the SRA Code or legislation. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA Handbook.

Should - Good practice for most situations. If you deviate from this, you must be able to justify why this is appropriate for your firm

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

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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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