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From November 25th - will firms be ready for the Brave New World of the SRA 2019 Standards and Regulations?

With just over a month to go, we wonder whether solicitors firms are ready for the “Brave New World” of the SRA 2019 Standards and Regulations that will apply from the date above.

The summary on the SRA website says “Our shorter, simpler Standards and Regulations focus on high professional standards and protecting the public. They also put more trust in your professional judgment and give you more choices over how and where you work.”

Many solicitors we’ve spoken to are a little cynical of the “trust in your professional judgement” part of the second sentence, and that is understandable. While the overall message appears to be of the “warm and cuddly” kind, firms shouldn’t forget the SRA’s Enforcement Strategy, particularly 1.2 Reporting Concerns;

“Our code of conduct places obligations on those we regulate to report to us any facts or matters which they reasonably believe are capable of amounting to a serious breach of our standards or requirements.”

And also, “However, where a serious breach is indicated, we are keen for firms to engage with us at an early stage in their internal investigative process and to keep us updated on progress and outcomes. And, we may nonetheless wish to investigate the matter, or an aspect of a matter, ourselves – for example because our focus is different, or because we need to gather evidence from elsewhere.”

So there appears to be a dichotomy here, and a potentially risky one for firms where they may think they can be complacent as the new code of conduct is not prescriptive and has (as yet) no guidance (hence the “shorter and simpler” phraseology being used). There are no outcomes, and no indicative behaviours, and although the SRA have said they would publish toolkits to support the code, the ones available at present are not a substitute for guidance.

What actions can you take? We’ve covered this in a previous article which you can view here;

http://cpm21.co.uk/Latest-News-from-CPM21-:-Professional-Management-by-Lawyers-for-Lawyers-in-the-UK/starrs-in-their-eyes

But in summary;

If firms have Lexcel, CQS or the SQM then they have documentary evidence of their policies plans and procedures and these are normally supported by file evidence of matter risk assessments and other aids. These standards also require file reviews to be carried out by competent supervisors, which should help identify any issues early enough that it doesn’t become what the SRA term a “serious concern.” One point to note for firms that already have these, any policies or procedures currently in place would have to be checked against the requirements of the 2019 Standards and Regulations to ensure any references are in line with them.

Where firms don’t have these quality standard accreditations in place (and don’t feel the need to), there isn’t any reason why they couldn’t adopt some of the procedures from them. Each standard is freely available from either the Law Society or the Legal Aid Agency to download.

Finally, if firms haven’t done anything to prepare for the changes, then there is still time.

For those who might like a little more detail on the issues raised here, cpm21 will be running courses in November on the new regulations, more details here;

Cardiff event;

http://cpm21.co.uk/uploads/downloads/STARS%20-%2012th%20Nov%2019%20-%20Ty%20Menter.pdf

Swansea event;

http://cpm21.co.uk/uploads/downloads/STARS%20-%2012th%20Nov%2019%20-%20Swansea.pdf

 

To read this article in Welsh keep reading;

 

O Dachwedd 25ain - a fydd cwmnïau'n barod ar gyfer Safonau a Rheoliadau Byd Newydd Dewr SRA 2019?

Gydag ychydig dros fis i fynd, tybed a yw cwmnïau cyfreithwyr yn barod ar gyfer “Byd Newydd Dewr” Safonau a Rheoliadau SRA 2019 a fydd yn berthnasol o'r dyddiad uchod. Dywed y crynodeb ar wefan yr SRA “Mae ein Safonau a Rheoliadau byrrach, symlach yn canolbwyntio ar safonau proffesiynol uchel ac amddiffyn y cyhoedd. Maen nhw hefyd yn rhoi mwy o ymddiriedaeth yn eich barn broffesiynol ac yn rhoi mwy o ddewisiadau i chi o ran sut a ble rydych chi'n gweithio.

Mae llawer o gyfreithwyr y siaradwyd â nhw ychydig yn sinigaidd o'r rhan “ymddiried yn eich barn broffesiynol” o'r ail frawddeg, ac mae hynny'n ddealladwy. Er ei bod yn ymddangos bod y neges gyffredinol o'r math “cynnes a mwy cudd”, ni ddylai cwmnïau anghofio am Strategaeth Gorfodi'r SRA, yn enwedig 1.2 Adrodd Pryderon;

“Mae ein codau ymddygiad yn gosod rhwymedigaethau ar y rhai rydyn ni'n eu rheoleiddio i roi gwybod i ni am unrhyw ffeithiau neu faterion y maen nhw'n credu'n rhesymol sy'n gallu bod yn gyfystyr â thorri ein safonau neu ofynion yn ddifrifol.”

A hefyd, “Fodd bynnag, lle mae toriad difrifol yn cael ei nodi, rydym yn awyddus i gwmnïau ymgysylltu â ni yn gynnar yn eu proses ymchwilio fewnol ac i roi'r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf i ni am gynnydd a chanlyniadau. Ac, serch hynny, efallai yr hoffem ymchwilio i'r mater, neu agwedd ar fater, ein hunain - er enghraifft oherwydd bod ein ffocws yn wahanol, neu oherwydd bod angen i ni gasglu tystiolaeth o rywle arall. ”

Felly mae'n ymddangos bod deuoliaeth yma, ac un a allai fod yn beryglus i gwmnïau lle gallent feddwl y gallant fod yn hunanfodlon gan nad yw'r cod ymddygiad newydd yn rhagnodol ac (hyd yma) nid oes unrhyw ganllaw (felly'r ymadroddeg “fyrrach a symlach” cael ei ddefnyddio). Nid oes unrhyw ganlyniadau, ac nid oes unrhyw ymddygiadau dangosol, ac er bod yr SRA wedi dweud y byddent yn cyhoeddi pecynnau cymorth i gefnogi'r cod, nid yw'r rhai sydd ar gael ar hyn o bryd yn cymryd lle arweiniad.

Pa gamau allwch chi eu cymryd?

Rydym wedi gorchuddio hyn mewn erthygl ble allwn gweld fan hyn:

http://cpm21.co.uk/Latest-News-from-CPM21-:-Professional-Management-by-Lawyers-for-Lawyers-in-the-UK/starrs-in-their-eyes

Rydym wedi ymdrin â hyn mewn erthygl flaenorol, ond i grynhoi;

Os oes gan gwmnïau Lexcel, CQS neu'r SQM yna mae ganddynt dystiolaeth ddogfennol o'u cynlluniau a'u gweithdrefnau polisïau ac fel rheol cefnogir y rhain gan dystiolaeth ffeil o asesiadau risg materol a chymhorthion eraill. Mae'r safonau hyn hefyd yn ei gwneud yn ofynnol i oruchwylwyr cymwys gynnal adolygiadau ffeiliau, a ddylai helpu i nodi unrhyw faterion yn ddigon buan nad yw'n dod yn derm yr SRA yn “bryder difrifol.” Un pwynt i'w nodi i gwmnïau sydd eisoes â'r rhain, unrhyw rai byddai'n rhaid gwirio polisïau neu weithdrefnau sydd ar waith ar hyn o bryd yn erbyn gofynion Safonau a Rheoliadau 2019 i sicrhau bod unrhyw gyfeiriadau yn unol â nhw.

Lle nad oes gan gwmnïau'r achrediadau safon ansawdd hyn ar waith (a ddim yn teimlo bod angen gwneud hynny), nid oes unrhyw reswm pam na allent fabwysiadu rhai o'r gweithdrefnau ganddynt, mae pob safon ar gael am ddim o'r naill neu'r llall. Cymdeithas y Gyfraith neu'r Asiantaeth Cymorth Cyfreithiol i'w lawrlwytho.

Yn olaf, os nad yw cwmnïau wedi gwneud unrhyw beth i baratoi ar gyfer y newidiadau, yna mae amser o hyd.

I'r rhai a allai fod eisiau ychydig mwy o fanylion am y materion a godwyd yma, bydd cpm21 yn cynnal cyrsiau ym mis Tachwedd ar y rheoliadau newydd, mwy o fanylion yma;

Digwyddiad Caerdydd;

http://cpm21.co.uk/uploads/downloads/STARS%20-%2012th%20Nov%2019%20-%20Ty%20Menter.pdf

Digwyddiad Abertawe;

http://cpm21.co.uk/uploads/downloads/STARS%20-%2012th%20Nov%2019%20-%20Swansea.pdf