The SRA has launched a searchable, online law firm database as a first step to improving access to information about the 10,000 plus law firms it regulates.
Law firm search allows anyone wanting to use a law firm to check whether it is authorised by the SRA. The service provides limited firm data, such as contact details, but does not include disciplinary or service information.
The SRA says that it is embracing the Government’s Public Data Principles by making information on the firms it regulates freely available to all re-publishers, for example comparison websites.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “We know that consumers look to regulators for authoritative and reliable information. Open data is not just about transparency and availability—above all, the information we provide has to be useful.
“We want to help people to make informed decisions when buying legal services. This first step makes our basic data freely available but we are looking at how best to open up access to more information.”
The data is updated daily and is free to access, re-publish and share. Prior to this service, the SRA provided data directly to comparison websites that met the criteria set by the Legal Services Consumer Panel.
A web service for data re-users is scheduled to be launched in April.
The SRA has issued a warning notice on potential fraud in personal injury cases, reminding the profession of its obligations.
The notice has been issued following publication of a report by the Insurance Fraud Task Force in January, calling for more to be done to ensure solicitors were not involved in bogus insurance claims. The SRA has drawn up a list of areas where there may be concerns for solicitors dealing with personal injury work and is asking firms to make sure they are fully compliant.
- Cold calling
- Breaching the ban on referral fees
- Acting on instructions without client approval
- Paying damages to third parties
- Bringing claims without clients’ knowledge
The SRA has also produced a series of case studies highlighting how these issues can arise in practice.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “As we said in January, insurance fraud is a serious matter and we welcome the Task Force’s report and its recommendations. We have made good progress on combating financial crime, but we know we have more to do.
“In particular, we want to remind solicitors of their responsibilities when conducting personal injury work. The consequences of failing to adhere to the Code of Conduct could be severe both for the client and to the profession.
“We will also be carrying out a comprehensive review of the personal injury market this year and that will contribute further to our understanding of this area of the market.”
The warning notice can be found here:
Go to the warning notice
The SRA’s response to the Insurance Fraud Task Force report can be found here:
Go to the SRA’s response