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Rule 7 Information on Letters, websites and emails

Rule 7 - Information on letters, websites and emails

2010 has rocketed by, with the sector experiencing change at an accelerated rate. We have seen the introduction of the RTA portal, and the defeat of the LSC at judicial review for tendered contracts for some categories of publicly funded law. It is no wonder in all the hurly burly that some practitioners may have missed some of the changes that came out in March and October.

One of the March changes was to Rule 7 of the code of conduct, Publicity. The Law Society has just released a practice note on the subject, which you can read at https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/productsandservices/practicenotes/letterheads/4586.article

Our article gives some rogh guidance on what should be provided and where, but should be used as a guide only - the practice note will provide more detailed information. We have also left out guidance for firms established outside the UK.

Information on letters, websites and emails.

If your firm is a recognised body, or you are a sole practitioner, and your firm is established in the UK, you must include the following on your letterheads, website and e-mails:

A statement that your firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ( SRA ), and either;

The registered name and number if your firm is a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or company; or

The name and number under which your firm is recognised by the SRA if it is a partnership or sole practitioner.

Rule 7.07 also applies to any promotional material in 'business' e-mails, such as the name and description of your firm. You should also include a link to the SRA rules on websites and emails;

https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/code-of-conduct-page

Companies.

Under the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008, your company must also state the following on business letters and websites:

The address of the company's registered office - and if applicable, that your firm is:

A limited company, that is exempt from using the word 'limited' as part of the company's registered name

A limited company that is a community interest company which is not a public company

An investment company within the meaning of section 833 of the Companies Act 2006.

Emails as 'business letters'

In order to ensure full compliance with Rule 7.07, you should provide your practising address and the details that would normally appear on the firm's letterhead in all early stage email communications to third parties.

Letterheads and fax headings

Information that must be provided on letterheads and fax headings can vary depending on the type of firm in which you practice.

Partnerships;

In letterheads and fax headings a partnership must provide:

If there are 20 or fewer members, a list of the partners identified as such, or

If there are more than 20 partners, either a list of the partners or a statement that a list is available for inspection at the office.

In line with rule 7.01, letterheads and fax headings must not mislead clients by wrongly presenting solicitors as partners. Those held out as partners may find themselves being treated as full partners by the SRA, even if they have not entered into a partnership agreement. Placing a line between partners and non-partners is not sufficient - the distinction should be clearly labelled within your list.

Limited Liability Partnerships;

In letterheads and fax headings LLPs must provide one of the following:

A list of the members identified as such, or

A statement that a list of members is available for inspection at the office, or

If there are 20 or fewer members and the LLP is practising under a name other than its corporate name, a list of members.

You should not present non-members of a LLP as 'partners', unless:

They are consultants or employees with equivalent standing to a member of the LLP, and

They are practising lawyers who would be entitled to become members under rule 14 of the Code.

In these circumstances you should include a clear definition of the specific arrangement referred to by the word 'partner'.

Companies;

On letterheads and fax headings companies must provide the following information:

  • 1. The company's corporate name
  • 2. The registered number from Companies House
  • 3. A list of the directors, identified as such, or a statement that a list of the directors is available for inspection at the office.

Companies sometimes describe participants in the practice as 'partners'. This may be misleading, and you should not refer to someone as a 'partner' of your company, unless:

They are shareowners, directors, consultants, or employees with equivalent standing, and

They are practising lawyers who would be entitled to own shares under rule 14 of the Code.

Again, in these circumstances you should include a clear definition of the specific arrangement referred to by the word 'partner'.

Sole Practitioners;

Sole practitioners must provide their name on their firm's letter head and fax headings.

Non-solicitor managers and bodies corporate

If the managers of your firm include persons other than solicitors, any list included on letterheads and fax headings must identify any solicitor as a solicitor. You must also

Identify any non-lawyers as non-lawyers

Identify the nature of any bodies corporate if this is not clear from the firm's name.  

Non-UK lawyers and notaries

In the case of lawyers or notaries from the EU (excluding the UK), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland you must provide the following information on letterheads and fax headings:

The professional title(s) expressed in the official language of the relevant jurisdiction

The jurisdiction(s) under which the lawyer or notary is practising

SRA registration details of any Registered European Lawyer (REL).

For lawyers or notaries from other countries (Registered Foreign Lawyers), you must provide details of their professional qualification(s) and their country or jurisdiction of qualification.

Branch offices

Branch offices or departments must also include your firm's SRA recognised name and registration number on correspondence. However, rule 7.07 does not apply to any practice conducted from an office outside of England and Wales, nor to an REL's practice conducted from an office in Scotland or Northern Ireland.