The SRA revealed last week that it has disciplined three more firms for breaches of the Transparency Rules bringing the total of firms disciplined for this so far this year to nine.
The SRA always indicated that it would take a firm line in relation to compliance with the Transparency Rules and that it would be checking regularly firm’s websites to ensure that compliance was being achieved, with warnings being sent to many firms the SRA did not regard as being compliant.
The firms whose sanctions were published last week received a rebuke, a fine of £1,000 and a fine of £2,000 depending on the severity of their breach. Clearly action against other firms that are in breach is likely to follow. The very public nature of the websites being checked makes it easy for the SRA to monitor compliance.
Amongst those firms that have been sanctioned, reasons have included failure to publish costs information, failure to publish complaints information and failure to carry the SRA digital badge.
There are still a substantial number of firms who are in breach of the Transparency Rules to a greater or lesser extent. Many who have made some attempt to comply have either not gone far enough with the information they produce, have not made the information sufficiently accessible or have missed out key elements of the information they should be publishing.
The SRA’s Update 88 explains why the regulator is so committed to these requirements and there continues to be guidance on the SRA website as to what firms need to do – https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/resources/transparency/.
We would strongly urge all firms to check that their websites are compliant and if they are not to make them so before the SRA takes disciplinary steps against them. Infolegal can assist firms with their compliance with the Transparency Rules including providing reviews of websites and providing suggested wording to address the requirements. See also our article “Transparency – Certifying Compliance with the SRA Rules” from August of last year and “Are You Transparent?” from June 2019. Infolegal members can also access our detailed Transparency Rules Factsheet (Factsheet number 35).