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Legal Industry Regulation and Disciplinary Proceedings
If you have been accused of breaching the Solicitors Code of Conduct, Principles, Accounts Rules or other practicing requirements, our solicitors are here to help. If the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) intend to visit your practice or have intervened, we can assist at all stages of an investigation or prosecution, including appeal.
To speak to a solicitor about allegations made against you, or to discuss your individual or law firm’s compliance needs, call us on 0800 652 5559 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.
If your matter is urgent, our solicitors can be reached by using our 24-hour legal helpline 0800 804 8186 so you have access to expert legal advice whenever you need it.
The legal sector is strictly regulated and all solicitors must follow a stringent code of conduct. In England and Wales, the sector is regulated by the SRA.
Solicitors Regulation Authority
The Solicitors Regulation Authority may conduct an investigation when they have reason to believe that a solicitor is failing to comply with Principles and requirements set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority Handbook.
Investigations carried out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority can result in a number of outcomes:
- impose a fine not exceeding £2,000.00
- Refer the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
- Issue a warning and/or advice
- Impose restrictions on a solicitors practising certificate
Our team offers expert representation to solicitors who are subject to an SRA investigation or prosecution, including appeals against decisions made at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Enforcement and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can also refer to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The function of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is to hear applications concerning allegations of professional misconduct and breaches of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Rules, Regulations and Code of Conduct.
Once a matter has been referred to Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and a case to answer is certified, formal allegations will be made and, if proven, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has the power to impose a range of sanctions which includes:
- Strike solicitors off the roll;
- Suspend solicitors indefinitely or for a specified period;
- Issue unlimited fines;
- Exclude a solicitor from Legal Aid work permanently or for a specified period;
- Restore solicitors to the roll;
- Making an order for costs.
We offer robust representation at all stages of investigation, disciplinary tribunals and appeals based on tribunal decisions. Our experts can advise on the drafting of correspondence and reports in response to allegations by the SRA where consideration is being given to a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Criminal Investigations and Procedures
If the situation is not handled correctly, it is very difficult for professionals to recover from serious reputational damage, regardless of the outcome of a criminal investigation. If you are being investigated on a professional level, it is vital to seek legal assistance as soon as possible, as doing so can help to limit serious damage to your professional reputation.
We have an enviable track record in defending legal professionals involved in criminal enquiries and prosecutions. We are regularly instructed to defend professionals when they are investigated by public authorities including:
- The Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- The Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Our expertise is varied, although we have a particular expertise in cases involving serious fraud, corruption, asset recovery and bribery. We represent those who are facing allegations arising out of their legal practice, as well as those who have been accused of committing a crime independently of their job.
Funding a Defence
In most cases, we represent clients who are covered by their Firm’s Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy. We are often asked to liaise with brokers or insurers in properly notifying relevant events and helping to define the scope of cover.
When insurance cover is not available, we usually offer fixed fees for stages within a case or for the whole case, depending upon the nature and complexity of the allegations. Our hourly rates are very competitive and the depth of our expertise enables us to offer very senior or junior staff as appropriate to your case; ensuring the most cost-effective and collaborative representation.
Solicitors Regulation Authority Compliance
Our team offers consultancy services to legal firms, Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) and Compliance Officers for Finance and Administration (COFAs) wishing to ensure compliance with SRA regulations. Consultancy services cover every aspect of a firm’s compliance requirements, which can include:
HR management within law firms is not just about absence and job descriptions. Members of staff represent the greatest asset, but also the biggest risk to law firms and suitable HR policies are essential in ensuring that both employees and business owners get the most out of the firm.
The service offers assistance with recruitment processes, performance measurement, discipline and career progression amongst others. The day-to-day management and legal advice involved in HR management is offered through JMW’s HR365.
Solicitors Accounts Rules (SAR) Compliance
The majority of solicitors and accountants appearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal are referred because of alleged account rule breaches. Our consultants can identify potential SAR breaches by analysing current billing and financial transaction procedures, time recording, debt management and authorisations.
The degree of SAR compliance varies greatly between firms and clients are often unaware of problems that can be easily rectified to avoid serious issues with the SRA.
Policy and File Review Service
Handbooks and policies can fall out of date. Client care letters or terms of business may need to be updated as practices develop. This can make file review difficult and it increases the burden for lawyers, especially when complaints arise. Outsourcing the function to experts means that you can concentrate on fee earning and benefit from the improvements our experts have made across industry sectors. It results in audit reports showing where improvements can be made.
The commercial advantages of accreditation are becoming increasingly obvious in a competitive market. Whether you seek quality assurance through Lexcel, a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), International Organization of Standardization (ISO) or Investors in People, our team can guide you through the process.
There is a burden on individual lawyers to produce evidence of expertise and it is no longer simply a matter of completing the requisite hours of CPD. Clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated in identifying lawyers through their stated expertise and by keeping up to date as much about business development as straightforward compliance.
Our experts offer face-to-face training, online programmes and webinars to keep lawyers up to date across a range of specialisms.
Strategic Compliance Advice
Independent oversight of a firm’s compliance strategy can be critical in ensuring potential issues are addressed before they develop into expensive problems. Reviewing and approving the compliance strategy gives a firm peace of mind.
Whether the firm chooses a light touch or a fully integrated service, our experts can ensure that everything from complaints management to risk mitigation is covered.
Independent oversight of a firm’s compliance strategy can be critical in ensuring potential problems are addressed before they develop into expensive headaches. Reviewing and approving the compliance strategy gives a firm peace of mind. Whether the firm choses a light touch or a fully integrated service, our experts can ensure that everything from complaints management to risk mitigation is covered.
Why Choose JMW?
Our service is focused on the concept of protect, prevent and defend by assisting in the avoidance and solution of problems as soon as they arise. We have been representing fellow legal professionals for years, and understand lawyers facing professional misconduct investigations will want to keep up to date with proceedings, which is why we arrange regular team meetings. If necessary, we may appoint experts from other departments at JMW, including family, media and employment, to your case.