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Ethics in law

  • The commitment to behaving ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor.

    Ethics is based on the principles of:

    • serving the interests of consumers of legal services
    • acting in the interests of justice
    • acting with integrity and honesty according to widely recognised moral principles

    Ethics will help you respond in the right way to any moral dilemmas you might face at work.

    Helpline support on ethical and practice issues

    For advice on ethical issues, call the SRA professional ethics helpline on 0370 606 2577.

    For support and guidance on legal practice and procedure, call our Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675

    SRA Code of Conduct: The principles

    Committing to acting ethically forms the basis of the standards and requirements set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct.

    These standards stem from the mandatory principles which apply to all solicitors and underpin all aspects of practice. When the new Standards and Regulations come into force on 25 November 2019, the following seven mandatory principles will replace those in the current code.

    You must act:

    • in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice
    • in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors' profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons
    • with independence
    • with honesty
    • with integrity
    • in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion
    • in the best interests of each client

    The SRA's new Standards and Regulations

    These come into effect on 25 November 2019 and replace the current SRA Handbook.

    The current SRA Code of Conduct is being divided into two: one code for solicitors and one for firms. Solicitors will be individually accountable for the actions of those they manage and supervise.

    Read more about the new Standards and Regulations

    Support for solicitors on ethical issues

    We support solicitors in:

    Ethical scenarios

    Our ethical scenarios are interactive online courses that guide you through ethical issues you might face in practice.

    You must register with our Professional Development Centre to access the scenarios.

    View our ethical scenarios

    Events

    We hold regular events for solicitors discussing ethical issues. You can watch videos of these events on YouTube.

    Sheffield and Leeds roundtables - discussion of various ethical legal issues, including what to do if something is permitted by law but may not be acceptable to the public

    Deregulation - what solicitors can learn from professionals in other markets

    Owning up to mistakes - is it sensible for a solicitor to admit making a mistake, even if it could limit their career?

    Professional ethics under pressure - discussion of whether lawyers can be competitive and act ethically, and how individuals and firms strike a balance between the rule of law and reputation

    Professional Standards and Ethics Committee

    Our Professional Standards and Ethics Committee monitors professional standards and values in regulation.

    Find out more about the Professional Standards and Ethics Committee

    Resources

    SRA Question of Ethics - FAQs on ethical issues from the SRA

    Ethical Performance - news and analysis on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues

    Institute of Business Ethics - current thinking on business ethics

    Business Ethics: A European Review - online journal discussing issues in business ethics and CSR (subscription needed)

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