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LSB signs off new SRA reporting rules

21 May 2019

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The Legal Services Board (LSB) has signed off on new requirements for reporting rule breaches to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The new rules will come into force as part of the SRA’s new Standards & Regulations regime in November.

The amendments relate both to what should be reported and when, after the regulator discovered that some solicitors were unsure when to raise the alarm if they suspected a breach. 

The new rules also make clear that if a breach is reported to a compliance officer within the affected organisation but there is reason to believe that it will not be passed onto the SRA, it is incumbent on the person making the report also to notify the regulator.  

The clarified rules read, “You report promptly to the SRA or another approved regulator, as appropriate, any facts or matters that you reasonably believe are capable of amounting to a serious breach of their regulatory arrangements by any person regulated by them (including you).”

In order to help clarify when a report might be appropriate the SRA had also included a phrase on early investigations, which reads requires solicitors to: “Inform the SRA promptly of any facts or matters that you reasonably believe should be brought to its attention in order that it may investigate whether a serious breach of its regulatory arrangements has occurred or otherwise exercise its regulatory powers”.

The clarification follows a controversial decision by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal earlier this year to strike off trainee Emily Scott, after she delayed reporting breaches to the SRA.

Scott told the Telegraph newspaper she had felt “terribly let down” by the SRA when her eventual decision to blow the whistle on her former firm resulted in the loss of her career.

“They encourage you to give them information then hang you out to dry. This could potentially prevent others coming forward in the legal world”, she told the paper.

The new wording adds clarity on the protection of whistleblowers by including: “You do not subject any person to detrimental treatment for making or proposing to make a report or providing or proposing to provide information based on a reasonably held belief… irrespective of whether the SRA or another approved regulator subsequently investigates or takes any action in relation to the facts or matters in question.”

Separately, the SRA is working on an update to its whistleblowing guidelines. 

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