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Title: https://uksolicitors.org/
URL: https://uksolicitors.org/
Description: Unlike for alternative business structures, where we have unlimited fining powers, we can only currently issue fines to traditional law firms, or individual solicitors, of up to £2,000. Increasing its fining threshold to £25,000, would mean a broader range of disciplinary matters could be dealt with by the SRA directly, without cases needing to be referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). This would mean cases could be resolved quickly, potentially reducing the cost, resource and stress burden a hearing places on all involved. It could also free up time at the SDT to progress the most serious cases. We are proposing that for more serious cases it is able to fine firms up 5% of annual turnover, as well as the introduction of measures which would take account of income when setting fines for individuals. This would, for example, allow different levels of fine to be issued to a low earning junior solicitor compared to a senior equity partner for similar offences. Introducing ‘fixed penalties’ for certain lower- level misconduct would not only allow more straight forward issues to be dealt with more easily for all concerned, but it would also provide greater transparency and consistency in how penalties were applied. Solicitors and firms fined by the SRA would retain the right to appeal both the outcome of any decision and penalty imposed at the SDT. The consultation also looks at a more robust approach to penalising serious misconduct that ensures sanctions are consistent and act as an effective deterrent across the whole of the legal profession – for example, in the light of the Bar Tribunals & Adjudications Service’s proposed approach to issue automatic suspensions in cases of sexual harassment, in addition to any financial penalty.