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SRA and BSB praised for effective enforcement strategies

27 March 2019

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The Legal Services Board (LSB) has found both the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) to be effective in their enforcement strategies.

In a report published last week the LSB said that both regulators had “met the standard of performance required in relation to all six required outcomes under our regulatory performance enforcement standard”. 

The super-regulator also said the review had improved its understanding of the “volumes, timeliness and planned developments” in both the BSB and the SRA’s enforcement strategies. 

The “end to end review” of the BSB and the SRA’s enforcement processes took place in 2018 and assessed ongoing relevance of the enforcement policy positions set out in the LSB’s March 2014 document on regulatory sanctions and appeals in the legal sector.

Those policy positions covered four areas: transparency; the consistent use of the civil standard of proof; fair and effective appeal arrangements; and consistency of powers and sanctions.

The LSB said it was satisfied with progress in relation the four areas and has identified three new areas of strategic focus on enforcement; timeliness of enforcement processes; effective and consistent use of interim sanctions; and assurance of the quality of enforcement decisions by regulatory bodies. 

Its report said that the three new policy positions would inform the LSB’s regulatory performance work over the next three years. 

In particular, the SRA will be assessed on the launch of its digital register, including the inclusion of disciplinary information on the register.

The LSB will continue to address inconsistencies in internal fining powers for ABS and non-ABS entities, including seeking assurance that the SRA is working with the Ministry of Justice to this end. 

Timeliness of case progression to the SDT was also noted as a specific focus. “We will continue to monitor trends or changes in timeliness through bi-annual performance management datasets provided by the SRA”, the report said. 

Legal Services Board chief executive Neil Buckley (pictured) said: “Effective enforcement functions are vital to consumer and public confidence in regulated services. We are encouraged that the BSB and SRA are committed to ongoing improvement and we will continue to monitor their progress.

“Over the coming years, we will focus on the timeliness and quality assurance of the regulatory bodies’ enforcement action, as well as their effective use of interim sanctions to protect consumers. We will also consider whether there are any developments in regulatory enforcement outside of the legal sector that we can learn from, to inform our future approach and expectations."

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