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Public opposed to SRA handbook proposals

Proposals to overhaul the SRA handbook are likely to be widely opposed by the public, an Ipsos-Mori survey commissioned by the Law Society suggests.

The findings reflect Chancery Lane’s fear that the amendments would deprive clients of key protections and confuse people seeking advice.
Proposals to allow some solicitors to advise the public from unregulated organisations and offer services without the safeguards required in solicitors’ firms – including indemnity insurance, and rules on conflict of interest and legal professional privilege – are deeply contentious.

Nearly 80% of respondents thought the businesses in which solicitors work should be regulated, while 70% felt it would be unacceptable for a solicitor from the same business to advise the other party involved in their legal issue.

Nearly 90% thought businesses in which solicitors work should have professional negligence insurance.

Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: ‘It’s clear from this survey that the changes to the rules governing solicitors are liable to be met with widespread opposition among the public. We urge the SRA to think again as their proposals would undermine public confidence in the solicitor profession and cause confusion for clients.’

Some 1,337 individuals were interviewed. A third said they or a household member had sought advice from a solicitor in the past three years.

By Gazette reporter

(Courtesy of the Law Society Gazette)