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SRA steps up efforts to enforce the referral-fee ban

Chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Antony Townsend has announced that the regulator intends to step up their efforts of enforcing the referral fee ban, which came in to place in April this year.

Townsend said that 900 firms that relied on personal injury work for at least 50% of their income were reminded to comply with new legislation. Furthermore, the SRA has had further contact with 45 firms and has since visited 25 firms in person. The aim of these visits is to examine how firms are managing the changes and whether or not they are using compliant marketing models.

Mr Townsend commented: “Visits continued during November to the higher risk firms. The sample includes a variety of size and type of firms, covering various personal injury referral schemes. The focus of our engagement with firms has been on how firms obtain new personal injury work and what information and advice is given to clients about any referral arrangements.”

The SRA is keen to emphasise that it will take appropriate action if necessary. For non-compliant offenders, this could include revocation of authorisation to practice.

Following April 2013, it was found that many firms have placed too much focus on compliance with the April reforms and have ignored other elements of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct. The SRA has since warned law firms in the UK of the dangers of ignoring vital guidelines and encouraged firms to reassess their current set-ups.




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