Chapter 3

Regulatory Codes and Compliance



In recent years, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has sought to strip more detailed provisions out of its comparatively lengthy rulebook in a shift towards ‘outcomes focused regulation’. Part of the rationale for this move away from prescriptive rules was that solicitors should act not only within the letter of the rules, but also within the spirit of the rules. It remains to be seen how much further towards this school of thought legal services regulators will move in the coming years, if at all. For the moment however, the regulatory rules to which lawyers are subject remain complex and considerable. While some lawyers prefer the clarity which more prescriptive rules provide, the present difficulty facing many is the sheer volume, complexity and overlapping nature of the requirements.

The aim of this chapter is to provide an outline of the various codes, regulations and general legal requirements which lawyers and legal practices are required to satisfy.

The regulatory codes to which lawyers are subject vary depending on the nature of their legal qualification and which regulator authorises their firm. In particular, the SRA makes use of powers given to it under the Administration of Justice Act 1985 and the Legal Services Act 2007 to apply its rules to non-solicitors working in solicitors’ firms as well as individual solicitors. Most individuals working in the law will be subject to either the SRA Handbook, the BSB Handbook, or in some cases both. Therefore this chapter focuses primarily on the SRA’s rules and the BSB’s rules with signposts to other regulators’ conduct requirements as appropriate. Attention is alsodrawn to other more general compliance requirements.

This chapter complements chapter 4 dealing with misconduct and chapter 5 dealing with investigation and enforcement.