Legal Industry Regulation and Disciplinary Proceedings

If you have been accused of breaching regulation laid out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or another legal authority, or need help complying with the SRA’s rules and regulations, our solicitors are here to help.

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. The role of the authority is to ensure that the public is protected by enforcing high standards of conduct and acting when risks are apparent. 

Enforcement and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

Tribunals hear cases of alleged professional misconduct or breaches of professional rules and regulation by registered European and foreign lawyers. They also have the jurisdiction over those who may not be qualified solicitors but are employed in the legal sector.

Tribunals have the power to:

  • 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.

We offer robust representation to solicitors in the early stages of enforcement, 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

It is very difficult for professionals to recover from serious reputation 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 have dealt with investigations including:

  • The Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • The Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Our expertise is varied, though we have a particular focus on cases involving serious fraud, corruption, asset recovery and bribery. We represent those who are facing allegations that arise out of practising law as well as those who have been accused of committing a crime independently of their job. 

Funding a Defence

Professional indemnity insurers are no longer required to cover the cost of SRA disciplinary proceedings, and legal expenses insurance may not be adequate for criminal investigations. If you are concerned about the cost of legal proceedings, we can organise a confidential, no-obligation meeting to discuss your situation.

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:

  1. Solicitors Accounts Rules (SAR) Compliance

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    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. 

  2. HR Management

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    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.

  3. Policy and File Review Service

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    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.

  4. Accreditation Services

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    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.

  5. Compliance Training

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    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.

  6. Strategic Compliance Advice

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    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.

  7. On-site compliance audits

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    A compliance audit is designed to identify the current level of compliance so that gaps can be addressed. This includes:

    • Client care
    • Product reviews
    • File management
    • Financial structure
    • How information is managed
    • Referral arrangement reviews
    • Complaints management
    • Gifting and hospitality policies
    • How internal breaches are rectified     

    Our compliance service includes:

    • Preparing for SRA visits
    • Carrying out a gap analysis
    • Training employees on SRA compliance
    • Assisting with compliance health checks during the sale or purchase of a business
    • Advising when a firm is concerned with the conduct of an employee
    • Demonstrating why compliance is important to a tender and business development

    We can also assist with business development strategies with the help of fellow professionals across the industry. Our aim is to shoulder the burden so that you can concentrate on delivering services to your clients.

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.

Talk to Us

If you require disciplinary proceedings defence in the legal sector, contact us today on 0800 652 5559 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will call you back.

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