Tag: 爱上海RK

first_imgSince my decision not to seek reappointment as chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority beyond this month, I have reflected on both the progress in the regulation of solicitors in recent years and the challenges for the future. With such a vast subject, lack of space precludes mention of all the issues that have demanded attention. The Law Society’s decision to establish the SRA as its independent regulatory arm flowed from Sir David Clementi’s review of the regulation of legal services. From the outset my fellow SRA board members and I were clear that our job was to regulate fairly in the public interest. We were also acutely aware of the size of the programme of regulatory reform which would be needed to translate the Legal Services Act 2007 into reality, and to overhaul the regulatory systems we had inherited, which, for all their strengths, were no longer fit for purpose. There is still a distance to travel before we all arrive at the final destination. I do, however, believe that when we do, the journey will have proved worthwhile. The Legal Services Act brings with it significant opportunities both for clients and for the legal profession. It is up to the SRA and the other legal regulators to ensure that the regulatory framework is transparent, proportionate and effective, allowing new (and traditional) models of legal practice to flourish while protecting the interests of clients. And it is up to solicitors to seize the opportunity to respond flexibly to the needs of clients for accessible and affordable legal services. The SRA itself has strived to be as accessible as possible to the profession. We have held more than 50 Regulation Roadshows, in 20 cities and towns across England and Wales. More than 3,000 solicitors have attended. This is a small percentage of the total number of solicitors in practice, but nevertheless the scale of this programme has been unprecedented. The roadshows are two-hour events at which we explain our current thinking on key issues, listen to solicitors’ suggestions and answer questions. It was comments by solicitors at early roadshows about the professional ethics helpline being open only when they were most likely to be in court or advising clients that prompted us to double its opening hours. The helpline now operates from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and is working to increasingly stretching targets to deal promptly with the high volume of calls it receives. We have done our utmost to take the views of solicitors and other stakeholders into account in the formulation of policy. We have held more than 40 consultations, reporting the responses and the outcomes on our website. Many of those consultations have related to laying the groundwork for legal disciplinary practices (LDPs) and alternative business structures (ABSs). We worked hard to enable LDPs – the first fruit of the Legal Services Act – from 31 March 2009. Although the number of LDPs established so far is only 130, I am certain that they will grow in popularity, especially in light of the recent decision by the Bar Standards Board to pave the way for barristers to practise in LDPs. An issue which caused me and my colleagues on the board great concern but turned out to be an opportunity for the SRA to make huge strides towards becoming a model of best practice, has been equality and diversity. I am particularly grateful to Lord Ouseley, a former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, for the review which he conducted and for the invaluable advice and guidance he offered. While we must guard against complacency, substantial progress has been made in ensuring that the SRA’s processes operate fairly in relation to all sectors of the profession, clients and our employees. Diversity has also been a key driver in our work to widen access to the profession while maintaining standards and the reliance that can be placed by clients on the ability of their solicitor. The work-based learning pilot – an imaginative scheme to explore ways of enabling people whose circumstances would otherwise prevent them from trying to enter the profession to do so – is an important example of this. My successor, Charles Plant, and his board will inherit from the current board many substantial strands of work, including the implementation of ABSs, a further shift to outcomes-focused regulation, improvements to the regulation of the corporate legal sector, and new approaches to assuring the quality of both firms and individual solicitors. They will also have to put into effect the Legal Services Board’s new rules to underpin the independence of the SRA and discuss Lord Hunt’s proposals to improve the Law Society Group’s corporate governance arrangements. Each one of these programmes of work is a significant challenge, and I wish Charles and his colleagues every success. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow board members, our chief executive Antony Townsend, his management team and all members of staff of the SRA for their efforts over the last four years or so. I have greatly valued the support, wisdom and good humour of them all. Peter Williamson is chairman of the board of the Solicitors Regulation Authoritylast_img read more

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