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SRA to be able to fine rule-breaking solicitors up to £25k

The fining powers of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have been increased from £2,000 to £25,000 under measures introduced last week (29 June).

The Ministry of Justice said the changes meant the SRA could now fine law firms and individual solicitors for a broader range of offences – “from lower-level cases involving inadequate staff training to those with more serious consequences including failure to implement the appropriate checks required to uncover signs of money laundering by clients”.

Previously, disciplinary matters requiring fines over £2,000 would be referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

“Given nearly 90% of fines currently issued by the tribunal are under £25,000, these reforms will allow them to focus on fewer, more significant allegations, like firms working for sanctioned Russian oligarchs and businesses,” the MoJ said.

It also claimed that the increased powers would reduce the number of cases referred to the SDT, shortening the average time taken for cases to be resolved.

Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said: “The UK can be proud of our world-leading legal services. But it is essential the sector retains its international reputation for the highest standards of probity.

“That’s why we are allowing swifter and firmer action to be taken against those who break the codes of conduct. And we’re freeing up the solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal to focus on the most serious breaches, such as those involving Russian sanctions.”

Anna Bradley, Chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said: “The overwhelming majority of solicitors meet the standards we all expect, but when they don’t, we step in to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession.

“There was strong public support for increasing our fining powers when we consulted last year and this change will mean we can resolve issues more quickly, saving time and cost for everyone. It will reduce stress and allow more focus on the most complex and challenging or serious cases.”

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