In most jobs, there is a regulatory body to answer to, a code of conduct or a list of rules to abide by.
If you are a teacher, you are under the watchful eye of the LEA and abide by Government set rules and regulations. If you are a doctor, you can be called to appear before the General Medical Council where fitness to practise is called into question.
Law is no exception of course. We were sent some information which took a look at just how solicitors are regulated, and the various bodies and statutes etc. to which solicitors (as individuals and firms) are subject.
You might be surprised…
A non-exhaustive list of some of the Acts of Parliament, Regulations and other instruments which form part of the legislative, regulatory and high-risk landscape affecting firms of solicitors today
· Solicitors Act 1974 (This governs the admission, professional practice & discipline of solicitors.)
· Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (These have changed the procedures governing civil litigation.)
· Data Protection Act 1998 (This grows in significance as solicitors & courts increasingly rely on IT.)
· Human Rights Act 1998 (This effectively requires solicitors to protect the rights of their clients.)
· Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (This affects solicitors whether or not FSA-authorised.)
· Terrorism Act 2000 (This is one of a series of acts relating to anti-terrorism & financial sanctions.)
· Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (In view of this Act, each firm must have a ‘Money Laundering Reporting Officer’ & be vigilant in case a client or other party is involved in money laundering.)
· Finance Act 2003 (This introduced the complex Stamp Duty Land Tax regime & convoluted forms.)
· Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (This restructured the Judiciary & Supreme Court.)
· Fraud Act 2006 (This deepens the risk that solicitors may unwittingly handle the proceeds of fraud.)
· Companies Act 2006 (This is the largest Act in history & affects all solicitors with company clients.)
· Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (This requires solicitors to conduct due diligence measures.)
· Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (This has restructured the tribunals & other courts.)
· Legal Services Act 2007 (This has formed the background to the establishment of the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2007, the Legal Ombudsman in 2010 and the Legal Services Board in 2010.)
· Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010 (This affects solicitors with clients from trouble-spots.)
· Bribery Act 2010 (This effectively requires solicitors to adopt ‘adequate’ anti-bribery ‘procedures’.)
· Solicitors Regulation Authority Handbook 2011 (This embodies various documents including the SRA Accounts Rules & SRA Code of Conduct. As of 2013, each firm must have a ‘Compliance Officer for Legal Practice’ plus a ‘Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration’.)
· Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (This affects legal aid.)
· Criminal Procedure Rules 2012 (These have changed the procedures governing civil litigation.)
N.B. 1: The above list does not include changes brought about by case law.
N.B. 2: The ‘high risk’ environment of today is a product of various developments, including the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, the Bribery Act 2010 and SRA Code of Conduct 2011, all of which contain risk-related provisions.
N.B. 3: Solicitors are not just regulated professional people but also officers of the court who are subject to the inherent supervisory jurisdiction of the court.
N.B. 4: Clients, banks & professional indemnity insurers are becoming increasingly demanding.
A non-exhaustive list of some of the bodies which are directly or indirectly involved in the regulation, discipline, investigation or oversight of firms of solicitors and individual solicitors
· The Court
o As solicitors are citizens, they are subject to the ordinary criminal & civil law of the land
o As officers of the court, solicitors are also subject to the inherent jurisdiction of the court
· The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (This body has the power to strike off or discipline solicitors.)
· The Solicitors Regulation Authority (This regulates solicitors i.e. it is the regulator of solicitors.)
· The Legal Services Board (This body regulates the SRA & other regulators of legal services.)
· The Legal Ombudsman (This body has formal powers to resolve complaints about legal services.)
· The Legal Services Commission (This body oversees the provision of legal aid.)
· The Ministry of Justice (This has responsibility for the justice system of which solicitors form part.)
· The Financial Services Authority (This body regulates solicitors who provide financial services.)
· The Serious Organised Crime Agency (This body fields suspicious activity reports from solicitors.)
· The Police (The police may investigate breaches of criminal law perpetrated by solicitors.)
· The Information Commissioner’s Office (This body oversees data protection law.)
· The Office of Fair Trading (This body enforces consumer protection law and competition law.)
· HM Revenue & Customs (This body assesses the tax returns of firms, LLPs & individual solicitors.)
· Companies House (This body holds information about firms which are LLPs or companies.)
· The Local Council (This enforces, inter alia, waste disposal, environmental law & planning law.)
Image taken from blog.coltinfo.co.uk