SRA Standards and Regulations

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations set out the high professional standards expected of the solicitors, lawyers and businesses it regulates.

The SRA Standards and Regulations replaced the SRA Handbook from 25 November 2019.

The Standards and Regulations are shorter and less prescriptive than the handbook. The SRA believes this offers solicitors greater flexibility.

However, solicitors need to use greater professional judgement to ensure compliance to the SRA.

The Standards and Regulations are underpinned by the SRA’s enforcement strategy.

You have a duty to report serious concerns or breaches of the codes of conduct promptly.

SRA Principles

There are seven SRA Principles that apply to individuals and firms.

Solicitors 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

SRA Codes of Conduct

Under the Standards and Regulations, there is:

These codes of conduct give you a framework for ethical and competent practice whatever your role, the organisation you work for or the environment you work in.

Read SRA guidance on the Standards and Regulations

SRA digital badge

All firms with a website must display the SRA’s digital badge. It’s a key way for firms to show they are regulated by the SRA.

Find out how to add the badge to your website

SRA Accounts Rules 2019

The SRA Accounts Rules are shorter, less prescriptive and trust you to act in your client’s best interests.

The SRA has created videos and guidance on understanding the Accounts Rules.

Working in-house

If you’re an in-house solicitor, the rules could offer you more flexibility in how you work. For example:

  • it is easier for you to do pro bono work
  • you can offer non-reserved legal services to third parties outside the organisation you work for

The SRA has created guidance for solicitors working in the not-for-profit sector.

Read more SRA guidance for in-house solicitors

Working as a freelance solicitor or in an unregulated entity

Under the Standards and Regulations, you could be an SRA-regulated:

  • solicitor in an unregulated entity – for example, an accountancy firm that also offers legal services to clients
  • freelance solicitor who can provide reserved services – for example, probate or notarial activities
  • freelance solicitor who only offers non-reserved services

If you decide to work in one of these ways, you should make sure you understand:

  • the different types of services you can offer
  • the requirements for you to work in this way – for example, what insurance you might need
  • what you need to tell clients – for example, being clear about the services you can provide and any possible limitations or risks
  • what your employer needs to know – for example, making sure your work is included in its insurance policy, since it’s vicariously liable for your actions

The SRA has created guidance for solicitors thinking about working outside a regulated law firm.

Read our practice note on freelance solicitors

Read our practice note on solicitors offering legal services to the public from unregulated entities

Reporting obligations

You have a duty to report serious concerns or breaches of the codes of conduct promptly.

If you’re an individual solicitor, or registered European or foreign lawyer, you should tell your firm’s compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) about your concerns, as appropriate.

The COLP will then make a professional judgement on whether to report your concerns to the SRA.

However, if you think a report should be made to the SRA but you’re not satisfied the COLP will take the same view, you should make the report yourself.

You can find more information about when to report in section 1.2 of the SRA enforcement strategy.

Find out more about your obligations in the cooperation and accountability section of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors.

Read more about firms’ obligations in the cooperation and accountability section of the Code of Conduct for Firms.

Ethical issues

The SRA's professional ethics helpline for solicitors offers advice on the SRA Standards and Regulations to solicitors, trainees and solicitor apprentices. You can choose to remain anonymous.

Call 0370 6062577 from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Chat with the team online between 9am and 10am, 1pm and 2pm, and 4pm and 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed on Wednesday).You’ll find resources, including videos and ethical scenarios, on our ethics in law page.

You can also contact our Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675.

Enforcement strategy

The SRA can handle reported breaches in different ways.

If the breach is minor and unlikely to be repeated, the SRA will not take action.

In more serious cases, it will open an investigation. But even when an investigation is opened, there may not be any sanction.

For example, an investigation could be closed with advice to the firm, which may include a warning about future sanctions if the breach is repeated.

Sanctions include:

  • a fine
  • restrictions to prevent a firm carrying out certain work
  • imposing conditions on your practising certificate
  • striking you off the roll of solicitors

If firms cooperate with the process, the SRA may be more likely to resolve the issue by supporting them through guidance, supervision and monitoring.

Read the SRA’s enforcement strategy

Find out more

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