Monthly Archives: November 2015

SRA publishes version 15 of the Handbook

The fifteenth version of the Handbook was published on 1 November 2015, and all the changes in this version came into effect on that date. The changes are outlined in these notes: please refer to the Handbook itself for full details.

Separate businesses

Chapter 12 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 has been amended to replace restrictions on links with certain types of separate business with new outcomes on client protection when separate businesses are involved.

Activities of a recognised body or recognised sole practice

The SRA Practice Framework Rules have been amended to allow a wider range of professional activities to be carried out within recognised bodies and recognised sole practices.

Accounts and overseas practice

The SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and the SRA Overseas Rules 2013 have been amended. The changes are:

  • exempt some firms from the requirement to obtain an accountant’s report
  • remove rigid restrictions on the format of the report to allow the accountant to exercise their professional judgement and concentrate on risks to client money
  • simplify the overseas accounting requirements.

Authorisation of sole practitioners

Changes have been made throughout the Handbook to reflect the new approach to the way the SRA authorises sole practitioners and to remove various references to Recognised Sole Practitioners. From 1 November 2015:

  • existing Recognised Sole Practitioners became Recognised Sole Practices
  • their authorisation is granted under the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011; previously, authorisation was granted under the SRA Practising Regulations 2011
  • sole practitioners no longer need to renew their authorisation annually and have an endorsement on their practising certificates; instead, sole practitioner firms are given lifetime authorisation in line with other types of firms authorised by the SRA.

Regulatory reform programme

The SRA has introduced a number of changes and improvements to its regulatory arrangements through the Amendments to Regulatory Arrangements (Regulatory Reform Programme) Rules 2015 and made changes to the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 and SRA Practising Regulations 2011.

Training regulations – apprenticeship pathway

The SRA Training Regulations 2014 have been amended – Qualification and Provider Regulations to enable people to qualify as a solicitor through completing an apprenticeship.

Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme

The requirement in the SRA Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme Regulations 2011 for candidates to obtain a certificate of eligibility has been removed.

Financial services – consumer credit activities

Guidance to Rule 5.11 of the SRA Financial Services (Scope) Rules 2001 has been amended to reflect the extension of the transitional period which will now run until 31 March 2016.

Insolvency practice

The SRA Insolvency Practice Rules 2012 have been removed to give effect to the SRA’s decision to cease regulating solicitor insolvency practitioners from 1 November 2015.

Guidance available for new accountants’ reports

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published guidance to explain changes to accountant’s reports which come into effect for accounting periods ending on or after 1 November.

The SRA has been working with the profession for more than a year on how to make accountants’ reports more targeted and relevant for firms and accountants alike. Solicitors’ practices that present little or no risk – such as those firms that do not hold much client money – will now be exempt from obtaining a report from their accountant.

The form that solicitors’ accountants complete each year has also been changed to make use of accountants’ expert analysis. The new forms enable accountants to advise on areas of potential improvement in processes for handling client money, helping to support the form. The new guidance explains the changes.

Crispin Passmore, SRA Executive Director for Policy, said: “This is the second phase of a project aimed at making our regulation more proportionate and targeted. The changes continue our work to remove the obligation for firms deemed low risk to go through the reporting process.

“For those firms that still have the obligation to obtain a report, the changes strengthen the reports by giving accountants more scope to advise firms on how they handle client money. That will help clients and build confidence in law firms. We’ve published the guidance to help firms and their accountants get the most out of the changes we’ve made.”

The guidance sets out what accountants need to consider in their report, factors that might lead to the report being submitted to the SRA, and examples of the types of checks that may be undertaken by the accountants. The new form comes into effect from 1 November.

The guidance can be found here:

Go to the guidance