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Changing the music

4 April 2011

So, the handbook nouveau has arrived, an inebriating potion blending modern principles with a flexible approach to regulation. But, at this stage, the SRA is the only one getting tipsy on its new fit-for-purposes rules.

Billed by the SRA as a flexible set of rules giving law firms the freedom to organise regulatory compliance as they see appropriate, the 2011 handbook should be a winner for all concerned: the regulator, traditional law firms, new entrants and consumers.

The less confrontational approach promised by the SRA, however, implies an existing compliance structure within law firms which many simply do not have.

The SRA’s view is that firms already have to observe compliance requirements under the current rule 5 on supervision and business management. According to the regulator, the new code only formalises expectations. Firms that already comply with rule 5 have little to fear from the new outcomes-focused approach, it says.

While correct in the...

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