The Solicitors Regulation Authority has vowed to press ahead with plans to disseminate more information about firms’ and solicitors’ past mistakes.
SRA chief executive Paul Philip (pictured) today said the authority would seek a ‘longer-term, strategic solution’ to help consumers choose their solicitor.
Philip said the information – potentially including enforcement action, practice conditions, complaints and claims data – should be available not just to bodies in the legal sector but what he called ‘all data re-publishers’.
The market, Philip told the Westminster Legal Policy Forum, is best placed to develop comparison tools that deliver ‘real choice’ to consumers.
‘People outside the sector would be surprised at how contentious something so commonplace in business, hospitality and professional services is proving for legal service providers,’ said Philip.
‘Making information work for consumers is a big step for the profession, but providing this information, we believe, is fundamental to a well-functioning market and making access to legal services much easier.’
Earlier this year the SRA created a law firm search on its website with basic information such as contact details, but it is clear the regulator wants to go much further.
Philip said the SRA’s reform programme should progress ‘at pace’ and he stressed that any uncertainty created by Brexit would not affect the wish for changes.
The regulator is already consulting on controversial reforms to the handbook and accounts rules, and Philip suggested the authority may also revisit rules around professional indemnity insurance.
Last year the SRA, in a wide-ranging discussion paper, said that it remained in favour of lowering the £2m minimum cover limit to provide more flexibility and lower costs. The plan had been dropped a year earlier.
Philip added: ‘We will be coming back to all this later this year, or early next year, with very specific proposals to change our regulatory requirements, to make sure this is not a barrier to entry.’