The SRA issues £750 fines to firms violating transparency rules, aiming for better compliance and transparency
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently published a higher number of fixed penalties under its revised financial penalty system. This initiative aims to ensure compliance with its regulations among law firms. The latest fines amounting to £750 have been imposed on five firms found to be non-compliant with the SRA’s transparency rules. This action follows previous penalties in November 2023 when three firms were fined for similar breaches.
In addition to the transparency breaches, the SRA also issued its inaugural fixed penalty in December 2023 to a firm failing to submit its diversity data. Firms are initially notified about potential fines and are given the chance to rectify the issue. This approach has led many firms to promptly comply, fearing the consequences of continued non-compliance.
For those firms persisting in violating the rules, there’s a potential for a doubled fixed penalty of £1,500. Paul Philip, the Chief Executive of the SRA, emphasized the significance of these penalties in dealing swiftly with rule breaches, thereby saving time, costs, and stress for all parties involved.
He stressed, “Our role is to uphold the public interest, and compliance with our transparency rules is vital. These rules facilitate informed decision-making for individuals comparing legal services. Firms adhering to these rules rightfully expect action against those who do not comply.”
Philip highlighted the importance of collecting diversity data, advocating for a diverse and inclusive legal sector that mirrors the communities it serves. Providing such data, a regulatory requirement, not only aids in understanding the sector’s progress but also allows firms to benchmark themselves against others.
Apart from transparency and diversity data, the SRA has noted improved compliance in mandatory anti-money laundering data submissions following the potential for fixed penalties in this area.
Disciplinary actions, including fines on firms, result in the SRA publicly disclosing its decisions on the Solicitors Register. This transparency allows the public to access and review records of solicitors and law firms regulated by the SRA.
The SRA’s revised fixed penalty system, part of broader regulatory reforms, introduced a range of fixed penalties up to £1,500 for firms. These penalties serve as a means to encourage compliance and accountability within the legal sector.
Source: Solicitors Journal, 9th January 2024