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Law Society issues practice note on move to Outcomes-Focused Regulation

The Law Society has issued a practice note giving an overview of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) ahead of its implementation on 6 October 2011.

The introduction of OFR by the Solicitors Regulation Authority signals “a move away from a rules-based approach to one that focuses on high-level outcomes governing practice and the quality of outcomes for clients”, Chancery Lane said.

The practice note covers a range of issues related to OFR, including:

  • The ten mandatory principles in the new SRA Handbook which are the key ethical requirements for firms and individuals who are involved in providing legal services
  • The mandatory nature of outcomes and their place in ensuring compliance with the principles
  • Meeting all the outcomes: The practice note points out that there are some significant changes between the Handbook and the 2007 Code. These include: the new requirement to ‘treat clients fairly’; the changes to the requirements on conflicts; new requirements on outsourcing; and issues relating to business management
  • The role and status of the SRA’s non-mandatory indicative behaviours (IBs), which provide examples of how solicitors might meet the outcomes
  • Compliance officers within a legal practice
  • Reporting requirements
  • Management of the business: including governance, risk assessment, systems and processes, and communication of regulatory changes
  • The SRA’s focus in implementing the new regime. The regulator is to target those areas which it believes may put its regulatory objectives at risk.

The practice note can be downloaded here.