Following recently updated proposals from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), newly qualified solicitors will have the ability to establish their own practices without the requirement of further supervision once they are initially qualified.

As the SRA enter the second phase of their rule book reforms, this is deemed a controversial proposal change amongst several key changes being introduced.

In addition to this major change, the inclusion of freelance solicitors being able to provide reserved legal tasks as if they were an individual, without being in a partnership or company, has also been suggested. Reserved activities cover tasks such as administering oaths, undertaking probate work, or to act on a client’s behalf in court.

Said proposals are deemed be particularly controversial in respect of consumer use of law services with “especially vulnerable ones (consumers), in choosing services in times of distress”, says Dr Jane Martin, chair of the LSCP. The Law Society take the view “that flexibility for solicitors should not come at the expense of clients” and therefore the moral implications of these new changes are still to be debated and are likely to continue to do so until a framework is finalised.

The SRA’s defence of their revised protocols is that they are to be removing unnecessary red tape for new solicitors that drive up their costs and also restricts access to solicitor services however are adamant that the right public protections will still be in place.

In light of these changes, the SRA will be holding a wider review on the implications that this may well have on firms in respect of their professional indemnity exposures.

James Burgoyne (Director of Claims & Technical at Brunel Professions), says “professional  indemnity insurance is a vital part of consumer protection and offers solicitors protection against vexatious complaints,”.

James also highlights the fact that the  “SRA has been keen to change the rules around PI insurance for some time.  It will be interesting to see what insurance requirements they propose for freelance solicitors and practices run by newly-qualified solicitors.”.

The SRA consultation on the rule changes has been published on its website.  The Law  Society and Legal Services Consumer Board have published their responses online.  Reports on the changes have been published by Legal Futures and the Law Society Gazette.

Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call Jonathan Filer on +44 (0)117 325 0752.