This article in Legal Futures discusses the groundbreaking research which uncovers a shockingly high proportion of City lawyers have a ‘poor knowledge’ of the professional rules. It suggests that the introduction of the COLP and COFA roles has led some to view compliance and regulation as somebody else’s job. Others assume the SRA Code of Conduct to be ‘common sense’, and few have detailed knowledge of the actual contents.
The SRA welcome the research, as it supports their ongoing work in reducing the Handbook to a mere 50 pages (from its current 400). The first draft is due to be released for consultation in the summer.
Why this matters:
In our experience, it is not just City lawyers who have a ‘poor knowledge’ of the Handbook. We are still seeing experienced lawyers openly admitting that they have never read it, 5 years after it was released. Others only have a vague understanding of Outcomes focused regulation, or wrongly assume that there is no prescription at all.
Many see the COLP as the ‘go to’ person whom they would expect to know everything. This of course is not what the COLP role is supposed to be about – the compliance responsibility is on everyone in the firm, and this starts with a duty to be familiar with the SRA Handbook.
We wait with interest to see if the slimmed-down Handbook will make the rules more accessible to busy lawyers.