The dramatic increase in the regulatory burdens placed on solicitors and law firms has led to an upturn in their need to access external advice on their obligations and how best to respond when things go wrong. Lawyers no longer seek legal advice solely for the purpose of defending proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal; our clients now require advice on when to report a matter to the SRA, how to comply with the SRA Handbook, business structures, insolvency, internal investigations and SRA investigations.
Kingsley Napley has extensive experience in assisting solicitors and law firms in dealing with regulatory issues. Our legal services regulatory team consistently carries a substantial caseload in this area. The team is led by Iain Miller and Julie Norris together with support from other members of the regulatory team and the wider firm. Iain Miller has specialised in this area for over 20 years. Over that time he has advised almost all the legal services regulators, advised firm and individual solicitors and acted in relation to over 100 cases in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as well as acting on appeals and other litigation involving solicitors. He is General Editor of the leading textbook on legal services regulation: Cordery on Legal Services. Julie Norris regularly advises solicitors and law firms on self-referral obligations and specialises in the provision of advice at the early stages of SRA investigations, including attendance at SRA interviews; providing advice designed to mitigate the reputational risks associated with disciplinary or regulatory disposals.
Our work in this area sits alongside our advice to legal services regulators both in England and Wales and internationally.
How can we help?
- Business structures for firms that are seeking to establish in England and Wales or are considering changing their practice structure to an alternative business structure. This includes strategic advice on how best to structure the business through to applications for authorisation;
- Regulatory due diligence for those seeking to acquire or invest in a law firm. Just like any other business those investing in a regulated legal services provider will need advice on the regulatory issues and any risks they may present;
- Ethical Advice. It is sometimes the case that firms and individuals will need to make difficult choices around their duties to their clients, the courts, and the wider public interest. There may be no right answer. We can offer independent authoritative advice;
- Internal investigations and reports. In even the best run law firms things go wrong. Responding properly to these challenges can minimise reputational and regulatory risks. We can help you get to the bottom of what went wrong, advise how to put it right and learn lessons for the future;
- Advice on whether a matter should be reported to the SRA and drafting notifications. It is not always clear as to whether a matter needs to be reported to the SRA and if it does how this should be done. We can provide independent assistance to guide you through the process;
- Advice on the regulatory aspects of the restructuring and insolvency of law firms. We have experience in relation to the administrations of Halliwells LLP, Dewy & LeBeouf, Manches LLP, Cobbetts LLP and Davenport Lyons;
- Representing firms and individuals involved in SRA investigations. Being the subject of an SRA investigation is hugely stressful. We have extensive experience on both sides of such investigations and can help in achieving the best possible outcome;
- Defending individuals and firms before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the High Court. The team has over 20 years’ experience and is able to support firms and individuals through the process.
- Solicitors Regulation Authority v Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and Arslan  EWHC 2862 (Admin) – Standard of Proof to be applied by the SDT in relation to proceedings where it is hearing an appeal from an SRA decision.
- Solicitors Regulation Authority v Spector  EWHC 37 (Admin) - Whether it was lawful for the SDT to anonymise the name of a solicitor at the end of disciplinary proceedings.
- Lumsdon and others v The Legal Services Board  UKSC 41 – Challenge by the Criminal Bar Association to the implementation of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates.
- Hemming v Westminster City Council  UKSC 41 - Whether the Provision of Services Regulations precluded charging for enforcement and other costs as part of an authorisation scheme.
- Acted for the Bar Standards Board in the drafting of their revised Code of Conduct, Entity Regulation Framework and application to become a Licensing Authority for Alternative Business Structures.
- Advised the SRA on the regulatory aspects of the insolvency of Halliwells LLP, Dewey and LeBoeuf LLP, Cobbetts LLP, Manches LLP, Challinors and Davenport Lyons.