SRA Handbook reform

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has introduced the Standards and Regulations, which came into force on 25 November 2019. They replaced the SRA Handbook.

Our view

The Law Society raised concerns about changes to practising requirements for solicitors which allow:

  • solicitors to deliver non-reserved services to the public from unregulated entities - for example, solicitors working for an accountancy firm are now able to offer legal services to clients
  • individual self-employed solicitors to provide reserved and non-reserved services without sole practice authorisation - examples of reserved services include advocacy and litigation

We think that the new models may confuse members of the public who need legal services, because lesser regulatory protections will apply to freelance solicitors or solicitors in an unregulated entity.

For example, freelance solicitors specialising in non-reserved work and solicitors giving advice to the public from unregulated firms will not need professional indemnity insurance or three years' practising experience.

When the LSB approved the SRA's proposals, we asked them to apply more rigorous scrutiny to rule change applications in future.

While we remain concerned, our focus now is on helping members to comply with the Standards and Regulations.

What this means for solicitors

From 25 November 2019, you must follow the Standards and Regulations.

The new rules are shorter and less prescriptive. The SRA believes that this will offer solicitors greater flexibility. As a result, you'll need to use greater professional judgement to ensure compliance to the SRA.

What we're doing

November 2019

We updated our practice notes to support members in following the new rules.

October 2019

We created a guide to the SRA's Standards and Regulations to help members understand how they're different from the Handbook.

September 2019

We published two practice notes about the new models of practice:

February 2019

We explained how solicitors could prepare for the Standards and Regulations.

August 2018

We released a briefing for members to tell you about the changes and help you understand what they mean for your practice.