A raft of changes that will further cut red tape and provide new ways of becoming a solicitor has been approved by the SRA Board.
The changes focus on eight separate areas of the Handbook. They will reduce duplication in administration for many, and improve regulation. The changes include:
- simplifying compliance officer approval for small firms;
- including an apprenticeship qualification under the Training Regulations;
- operational changes and improvements for ABS authorisation; and
- simplifying candidate declaration and notification processes.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Taken together these eight changes are a significant reduction in red tape and bureaucracy, marking a step forward in freeing up firms and individuals to do business. They support small firms which are often stretched for time and resource and they provide greater opportunity for a wider range of talented people than ever before to enter the profession.”
The changes agreed by the Board were part of a formal consultation between 16 April and 11 June this year.
The SRA received more than 100 responses to the consultation earlier this year. The proposals approved by the SRA Board were:
- Simplify compliance officer approval for small firms (1-4 managers): Streamlining the application process for sole practices and small firms (and some medium firms) by removing the need for a stand-alone application for compliance officers.
- Simplify candidate declaration and notification processes: Removing the need for candidates to sign a declaration separate to the applicant firm, and removes a requirement in the rules for us to notify each candidate of any decision separately, in writing
- Revise the rules relating to reserved legal activities: Revising the rules to reflect the SRA’s view that firms apply for the entitlement to offer reserved legal activities, whether they choose to do so at any given point in time is a matter for them
- ABS authorisation – operational changes and improvements: Removing the requirement for us to approve individual managers within ABS corporate owners, and removing the seven-day notification requirement for deemed approved manager or owner applications
- Changes to insolvency rules: A minor change to the rules to fill in an existing gap – partnerships that have entered into administration are not currently covered by the regulations
- Guidance on recording of non-material breaches: Providing further clarification and guidance on the current requirement
- Recording and reporting of diversity data: Minor changes to be made to the Code of Conduct to reflect the above existing requirement more clearly
- Enable qualification as a solicitor through an apprenticeship route: Making an addition to the Training Regulations to include the new apprenticeship route to qualification, which has recently been approved by BIS
These will now need Legal Services Board approval before being adopted as part of the SRA Handbook.
The consultation document can be found here: https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/consultations/regulatory-reform-programme.page.