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Opening legal access for clients or leaving them unprotected – why relaxing the regulations could be detrimental to your interests

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30th May 2018

In June 2017, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced that solicitors are allowed to practise from unauthorised businesses. This followed a major shake-up of regulations with the aim of cutting the complexity of the rules governing where solicitors can work, in favour of providing merely an overview of obligations and standards.

The SRA has admitted that they have met with some opposition, not least from the Law Society. Rather than opening up access to legal services, the Society believes that the proposals could leave clients unprotected if something goes wrong.

Despite the expectations that the plans would not come into effect until later this year, a press release broadcast by the Law Society reports that the SRA has allowed an unregulated business to start employing solicitors to advise its clients.

The Law Society has reacted with alarm. Waiving the rules for one organisation effectively removes the rules for all and they believe this is happening without proper scrutiny.

In such cases the Legal Services Board would review the changes proposed – especially those with such potentially far-reaching consequences – to make sure that public interests aren’t being damaged. The Law Society’s argument continues that a solicitor employed in a profit-making organisation cannot guarantee the best professional indemnity insurance, access to the solicitors’ compensation fund or legal professional privilege (which protects all communications between the solicitor and their clients from being disclosed without the client’s permission).

At Griffith Smith, we agree with the Law Society. As solicitors, we have to guarantee the protection of our clients, and the regulations are in place for this very reason. They provide consistency across practices in England and Wales and certainty and reassurance for our clients. Trust is an essential part of our business, and we hold our clients’ best interests very close to our hearts.

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