Ethics Helpline v Complaints

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS made this Freedom of Information request to Solicitors Regulation Authority

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Dear Solicitors Regulation Authority,

Please provide any documented guidance provided to the SRA complaints unit that they should act contrary (i.e. come to a different decision) to advice provided by the SRA Solicitors ethics helpline.

Please additionally provide details of documented guidance to both the complaints function of the SRA and its Solicitors Ethics Helpline on how they ensure consistency in decision making.

Yours faithfully

Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers

Information Compliance,

Dear Mr Carruthers

Freedom of Information Request – Our Ref: FOI/BS/1337

Thank you for your email today to the Solicitors Regulation Authority
(“SRA”) requesting information. I am treating this as an information
request under the Law Society Freedom of Information Code of Practice
("the Code").

You have requested access to the following information:

"Please provide any documented guidance provided to the SRA complaints
unit that they should act contrary (i.e. come to a different decision) to
advice provided by the SRA Solicitors ethics helpline.

Please additionally provide details of documented guidance to both the
complaints function of the SRA and its Solicitors Ethics Helpline on how
they ensure consistency in decision making."

The SRA is a part of the Law Society but acts independently in carrying
out its regulatory functions. The Law Society is not covered by the
Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) as it is not a designated authority,
but has adopted its own voluntary Code of Practice which closely reflects
the FOIA. The Code may be found at:

[1]http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/Get-in-touc...

The Code applies to all information held by the Society, including the
SRA, and the Information Compliance Team deals with all requests received
under the Code. We will not share information relating to your request
across the Law Society Group.

I am currently dealing with your request and will aim to respond formally
by 11 February 2015 which is 20 working days from the receipt of your
request.

Your sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (Ext 4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[2]www.lawsociety.org.uk

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Joao Curro,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Carruthers

 

Freedom of Information Request – Our Ref: FOI/BS/1337

 

Further to my email of 14 January 2015, please find below the response to
your information request under the Law Society’s Freedom of Information
Code of Practice ("the Code").

 

You have requested access to the following information:

 

"Please provide any documented guidance provided to the SRA complaints
unit that they should act contrary (i.e. come to a different decision) to
advice provided by the SRA Solicitors ethics helpline.

 

Please additionally provide details of documented guidance to both the
complaints function of the SRA and its Solicitors Ethics Helpline on how
they ensure consistency in decision making."

 

 

There is no such documented guidance.

 

The Professional Ethics Department and the departments dealing with
reports about solicitors are two entirely separate functions and are not
interdependent on each other in carrying our their functions.

 

The Professional Ethics Department provides confidential advice to
solicitors and their employees on the application of the SRA Handbook.
 The guidance is based on the generally limited information provided by
the solicitor during the conversation and is not binding on the solicitor,
the SRA, or any other involved entity. 

 

The departments dealing with reports review information the SRA is sent to
decide if they wish to make further enquiries based on whether the SRA
criteria for further action is met.  They are not bound by any guidance
given to the Professional Ethics Department.

 

 

I hope this information is of use.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk

[2]Corporate Solutions Logo -wide.jpg

 

This e-mail is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient then
you must not copy it, forward it, use it for any purpose, or disclose it
to another person. Instead please return it to the sender immediately and
copy your communication to [email address]. Please then
delete your copy from your system. Please also note that the author of
this e-mail is not authorised to conclude any contract on behalf of the
Law Society by e-mail.

Stay up to date by registering for the Society’s e-newsletters at
[3]www.lawsociety.org.uk/newsandevents/newsletters.law

To help us improve our service, calls may be monitored or recorded for
quality and training purposes.
Thank you.

References

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS left an annotation ()

This FOIR was made as the Ethics Helpline identified that a number of acts of Solicitors would be in serious breach of the Solicitors Codes and Principles. Notices against the Solicitors have been raised with the SRA and these have been passed to the SRA complaints unit as they have not been risk assessed.

The SRA through its risk assessment formula (Event * Impact * Evidence * Credibility) gives a certification if the Solicitor has breached the Solicitors Code and Principles. Any score over 25 is identified as leading to a probability of regulatory action. The SRA are able to decide not to take regulatory action. However, that does not impact on the certification.

The Courts have identified that they would expect the breaches of the Codes and Principles involved to lead to regulatory action.