SRA to be legally separate arm of Law Society

The UK Law Gazette reports…

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is to be established as a discrete legal entity within the Law Society Group in order to comply with new governance requirements. In a joint statement, the representative Law Society and the regulator said the new arrangement would create more transparency for the profession and public about the bodies’ distinctive roles and responsibilities.

The relationship between legal representive bodies and ‘frontline’ regulators has been the subject of recurrent debate and periodic review since the current arrangements were enshrined in the Legal Services Act 2007. Establishing the SRA as a standalone body follows a review of the internal governance rules by umbrella watchdog the Legal Services Board. During the review the SRA argued for a rewrite of the rules ’to support the maximum regulatory independence possible’ by allowing it to become a legal entity discrete from the Law Society.

The statement, from Simon Davis, president of the Law Society and Anna Bradley, chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, says: ’The Law Society, the independent professional body for solicitors, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, as the regulator, have distinct yet complementary roles.

’We have for some time been discussing our future relationship and have agreed that, given the need to comply by June with new internal governance regulations from the Legal Services Board, now is the time to establish the Solicitors Regulation Authority as a distinct legal entity within the Law Society Group. This will mean that both organisations can focus on our respective roles while working together wherever appropriate.

’We consider that the new arrangement will not only be more effective but create more transparency for the profession and the public about our roles and responsibilities.’

Stephen Mayson, honorary professor in the faculty of laws at University College London, is currently conducting an independent and unrelated review of legal services regulation which he will present to the Ministry of Justice later this year.