The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is claiming that reforms on regulation to open up the market, increase competition and focus on high professional standards will help to alleviate the uncertainty facing the legal profession as a result of the Brexit vote.
In report titled ‘Exiting the EU: An update for lawyers’, the SRA has set out guidance on the potential consequences for lawyers including the practising rights of lawyers and firms in the EU who can currently practise across the EU with few constraints, and the EU influence on UK law.
The SRA confirmed that there had been no changes to current practising arrangements as a result of the EU referendum, and the report includes a checklist of issues for law firms to consider over the months and years ahead.
SRA chief executive Paul Philip (pictured) said: ‘It is important that both we and law firms monitor what is happening and make sure we understand the possible consequences. This report is the start of an ongoing dialogue about some of the issues and risks we – and the profession – may need to consider.
‘The uncertainty that has followed the EU referendum result should not slow down reform. Changes to open up the market, enabling innovation and increasing competition, will help the sector to grow, to support the wider UK business sector and to attract inward investment. That is, if anything, more important than ever before.’
Fieldfisher senior partner Matthew Lohn and a practising lawyer in the firm’s public and regulatory law group told Legal Business there is no degree of certainty about the impact of Brexit on legal services, and that clients are bored of getting Brexit briefings from law firms that say absolutely nothing.
‘At the end of the day it comes down to what deal is cut. In the same way there is speculation as to whether or not we will retain financial passporting, exactly the same applies as to the extent to which we have some form of regulatory alignment across different sectors be they banking, law – other professional activities.
‘The SRA’s report is encouraging us to think and defining the categories in which we way need to think, but beyond that at present, it is difficult to prepare with any degree of certainty until we understand the direction of travel. And we have still got high court actions pending this autumn as to the triggering of Article 50 itself.’
Earlier this week it emerged that The Legal Services Board (LSB) had proposed an overhaul of legal services regulation which would scrap the SRA in favour of one all-powerful legal regulator.
The LSB, which oversees legal regulation, proposed creating one regulator to replace the 15 different bodies, employing 750 people, which currently police the sector at an annual cost of £70m.