The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published several new and revised pieces of guidance over the course of the past month or so, some of it not necessarily as easy to find as it might otherwise be. In this brief article we take a quick look at what has been published and where it can be found.
First up, there have been two new guidance notes. The first, published at the end of last month, looks at the the factors that are taken into account when the SRA decides to investigate a firm whilst the second, published just last week, provides advice on leasehold provisions including ground rent clauses. Both can be found by going to https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/guidance/topic/all-topics/ .
The first looks at the SRA’s aims to make sure that all whom they regulate understand how they assess reports and complaints made and in particular at how they make a decision to investigate. This involves, for example, the application of the Assessment Threshold Test which assist the SRA in deciding if a potential breach is sufficiently serious to justify them taking action and whether, if proved, is capable of resulting in regulatory action?
The second of the guides looks at what the SRA Standards and Regulations require when firms are acting for clients who are buying leasehold properties so as to avoid possible breaches of the SRA requirements. In doing so it looks at the principles and codes of conduct, at the need to provide competent advice and at referrals and conflicts of interest. The need for the guidance arises from SRA concerns that clients are “not receiving appropriate advice on onerous clauses in leases”. In particular the SRA refers to issues arising in the context of “ground rent clauses for new-build properties which can result in an increase in the ground rent payable by the lessee from a few hundred pounds a year to more than, for example, £70,000 a year, over the course of the first hundred years of a lease”.
Elsewhere on the SRA website are to be found updates and additions in a number of areas. Money Laundering guidance and support was updated just before Christmas with revised guidance as to the scope of the money laundering regulations and guidance for new Money Laundering Compliance Officers (MLCOs) and Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLROs). These can be found at https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/resources/money-laundering/guidance-support/.
Finally in this quick review, there is new content to be found in relation to Innovation and Technology in Legal Services. For more information go to https://www.sra.org.uk/home/hot-topics/innovation-technology-legal-services/ .