COVID-19 EXPERT LEGAL INSIGHTS

Guidance and updates for regulated legal professionals during Coronavirus pandemic

31 March 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption and uncertainty in all reaches of our professional and personal lives.

 

The legal profession is not immune to that uncertainty- particularly as measures have been put in place to ensure that both justice continues to be delivered and businesses can continue to provide services to their clients in these extraordinary times.

For those who are working remotely, COVID-19 has presented new challenges in how we continue to comply with our regulatory obligations. For those continuing to attend court, the challenge is effecting the administration of justice in a way which is consistent with the Government’s health guidance, not least because of concerns regarding the risk of infection.

What is clear is that everyone is doing their very best; but with what might feel like a bombardment of updates from all angles, it can be difficult to know if you are reading the most up-to-date information and guidance. Our aim is to therefore ‘cut through the noise’ and provide links - all in one place - to the most recent guidance and updates from various legal services regulators.

We are closely monitoring the guidance and will be regularly updating this space as the situation develops. If you are unsure about how the latest guidance applies to you, or you need clarity on how best to ensure compliance with your regulatory obligations or interpret the ‘Q&A’s offered by the regulators, then we can assist you.

Updates from the Legal Services Board

 

Updates for solicitors and law firms

 

Updates for Barristers and other advocates

 

Updates from other legal services regulators

 

About the authors

Jessica Clay is a Senior Associate in the Regulatory department and specialises in legal services regulation, with a focus on regulatory compliance, legal ethics, investigations and public law matters. 

Kathryn Sheridan is a barrister in the Regulatory team. She is an experienced regulatory and criminal law advocate. 

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Latest blogs & news

Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations for Care Home Workers

This week, the Government announced that Covid-19 vaccinations will be made compulsory for care home staff, raising strong emotions on both sides of the argument.

Ethical imperatives

Julie Norris and Jessica Clay consider SRA entity regulation and the imperative to create an ethical (ergo, compliant) legal workplace.

All well and good

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of good mental health and resilience both in and out of the office. Bronwen Still and Lucinda Soon consider your obligations

eSports vs. the Law

Gone are the days of computer gaming being viewed as a secluded activity; gaming is now a thoroughly social experience that attracts a global audience of millions and players can compete for large sums of money and celebrity. This burgeoning industry is largely in a virtual world and has developed in a blockchain, decentralised fashion. Often the UK government talks up the UK gaming industry and how keen the government is to support this sector, and there have been instances that show support, but when it comes to playing games competitively, law and regulations have not yet caught up.

More clarity needed from the SRA on boundaries concerning sexual misconduct and harassment in law firms

The solicitors’ watchdog is right to take charge of misconduct cases but it needs firmer guidance to succeed 

Coaching, Teaching and Support Work in Lockdown: Safeguarding and Data Protection considerations when working with children online

The COVID-19 crisis has forced sports clubs, schools, universities and charities to rapidly change their approaches to coaching, teaching and support work. The regulations on social distancing have forced organisations to innovate; services which had previously been offered mostly or wholly in person were rapidly shifted online during “lockdown 1” and will return online at least for the duration of “lockdown 3”.  If the vaccine rollout has the desired effect there will no doubt be some return to “traditional” methods, but it seems very unlikely that the changes brought about by the pandemic will be completely reversed.  In this blog, Claire Parry from Kingsley Napley’s Regulatory team and Fred Allen from the Public Law team look at the challenges organisations face engaging with children online.

Beckwith v SRA – are there implications for the regulation of professional accountants who face sexual misconduct allegations?

In our fourth blog in our series on Beckwith v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2020] EWHC 3231 (Admin), we turn our attention to consider what impact, if any, this landmark decision might have on the regulation of professional accountants. While the case turned on some very specific features relating to the regulation of solicitors as contained in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Principles and Code of conduct, some parts of the judgment may have more general application.

Post-Beckwith – where to now for sexual misconduct cases?

In the two years preceding Ryan Beckwith’s appeal to the High Court, the SRA pursued a handful of other sexual misconduct cases before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (Tribunal). These cases are varied and fact-specific and include sexual misconduct in and relating to the workplace and conduct outside of work.

Where have we reached on costs in proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal post Beckwith?

Regulatory investigations across all sectors are increasing in complexity, with a corresponding increase in the size of the cost applications made by regulators upon successful prosecution. For solicitors facing investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’), the costs associated with prosecutions before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (‘SDT’) have made the headlines recently for their size. In Beckwith, for example, the Divisional Court referred to the SRA’s costs of c.£340,000 as “alarming.

The SRA’s updated NDA warning notice introduces welcome clarity

On 12 March 2018 the SRA published its warning notice on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). This was in the wake of the widespread publicity at the time given to NDAs which had been considered too draconian in reach and effect.

The use of artificial intelligence: interesting technological developments in the legal and accountancy sectors

In this second blog in our technology and innovation series, we look at some recent developments in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal and accountancy sectors.

Technology in the accountancy and legal sectors – what are the regulators doing? The long read…

In the first of our Tech blog series, we take a look at how regulators in the accountancy and legal sectors are supporting technological innovation in their respective professional sectors, and how they themselves might adapt their regulatory approach in the new era of digital technology.

The SRA Standards and Regulations – a year on

It has been a year since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched its Standards and Regulations (StaRs) and even longer since the revised Enforcement Strategy was rolled out.  This time last year, we produced a series of blogs relating to launch of the StaRs and provided our views on what we thought you needed to know.

Victims’ Code set to change

On 18 November 2020, the government confirmed that it is proceeding with planned changes to the  Victims' Code, following a consultation that began on 5 March 2020. The changes mean that when the revised Code comes into force, it will be based on a clearly defined set of rights that set out a minimum level of service that can be expected from criminal justice agencies. It is hoped that the changes will mean victims have a greater awareness of their rights, receive the information and support when then need it and have a greater level of satisfaction with the treatment they receive in the criminal justice system. 

Intractable insight: suspension is not enough

On 19 November 2020, the High Court handed down judgment in the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care’s (“PSA”) challenge to a decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (“MPT”) to suspend a doctor from practice. In her judgment, Mrs Justice Farbey emphasises the significance of lack of insight to the question of sanction.

Fit and proper person requirements for directors in the health and care sector – what does this mean and what are service providers required to do?

All providers registered with the Care Quality Commission (“CQC) must assure themselves that all directors who are responsible for delivering care to service users are fit and proper – in other words, they must be able to diligently carry out their responsibility to ensure the quality and safety of care. This forms part of the providers’ duty to ensure the service is well-led, which is one of the focus points during an inspection. Not only does the CQC monitor compliance at the point of registration, but it is an on-going duty and can lead to enforcement action where it is not met.

FAQs : The SRA's early character and suitability assessment

The route to obtaining a prestigious job in the legal profession is hard enough without the worry of whether past misdemeanours will prevent you from being admitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as a solicitor. Convictions or cautions in early life (for even relatively minor offences), student disciplinary findings, civil debts and the like, are all capable of preventing prospective solicitors seeking admission to the roll becoming qualified as a solicitor. Since May 2018, prospective solicitors have had the ability to seek an early character and suitability assessment under the Authorisation of Individuals Regulations,[1] enabling them to understand if something they did in the past could be a bar to entry to the profession.  

Mythbusting: Recovery of Costs in Private Prosecutions

Private prosecutions provide an effective way to seek justice; and particularly in circumstances when the traditional prosecuting agencies are unable or unwilling to act.   Conducted appropriately they can be a useful, efficient and cost-effective tool to secure punishment of the guilty.  Conducted badly they can be an expensive mistake with far reaching consequences. 

In this blog series we draw on our experience of both bringing and defending private prosecutions to help clarify some of the common myths and misunderstandings about private prosecutions.  In this blog we look at whether the private prosecutor is entitled to recover their full investigation and legal fees at the end of the case.

Are you getting complacent with compliance?

After months of many solicitors working from home, it's easy to get comfortable. But with complacency comes the risk of non-compliance with your regulatory obligations. Jessica Clay provides a refresher on your duties, the risks involved in remote working, and how you can stay compliant.

COVID-19 related insights:

COVID-19 related insights:

Our COVID-19 statement

We recognise that these unique times are presenting unprecedented challenges for our clients and we are here to support you in any way we can.

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Can you get out of or suspend a contract because of Coronavirus?

Alex Torpey covers the key things to look out for if you are relying on the Force Majeure clause.

Watch the video on LinkedIn

Overcoming the challenges of co-parenting for separated and divorced parents

Rachel Freeman, Partner in our Family Law team, addresses some issues that we are seeing arise for separated parents in the current crisis.

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Tech in Two Minutes - Episode 7 - The Coronavirus challenge for tech coworking spaces

Andrew Solomon speaks about the challenge for tech companies and coworking spaces during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the podcast

The legal basis for lockdown

Alun Milford, Partner in our Criminal Litigation team, provides an in-depth look at the legal basis behind the current lockdown.

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Managing your Migrant workforce in the COVID-19 crisis

On Friday 3 April, immigration partner and head of department, Nick Rollason, hosted a webinar looking at urgent issues employers are facing during the COVID-19 crisis and answered some of the key questions being raised.

Watch the webinar recording

Furlough leave and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: key legal considerations for Employers

On Thursday 9 April, Andreas White, Partner in our Employment Law Team, delivered an overview of the scheme with a focus of the key legal issues for UK employers.

Watch the webinar recording

Coronavirus and the perils of signing your Will

Will instructions have apparently risen by 30% since COVID-19 reached our shores. What effect does COVID-19 have on Will signings? James Ward and Diva Shah in our Private Client team blog.

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The juggling act of a single mother, home school teacher and head of a family team

Charlotte Bradley, Head of our Family Law Team, reflects on how the COVID-19 crisis has affected working parents like her.

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The future public inquiry into COVID-19

Calls for a public inquiry are continuing to mount and are likely to prove difficult to resist. In this blog, Sophie Kemp considers the framework for such inquiries, and the key issues likely to form the core of its terms of reference.

Read the blog

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We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

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