Regulator to pursue plans to open ‘safe spaces’ for innovative firms

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has stated that its going forward with plans to create a ‘safe space’ for law firms wishing to innovate.

The move follows last year’s consultation, which proposed that firms and solicitors should have the opportunity to apply for waivers in order to get round rules which could be holding back innovation.

Announced today by the regulator, the move will simplify the current waiver process, clarify the criteria for applying for an exemption whilst ensuring safeguard prioritis public protection.

The SRA have also stated that that any waivers will be published to promote fairness and transparency, as well as putting a yearly innovation report together. This, it states, will help ensure decisions are being made consistently.

Prior to being granted a waiver, the solicitor or firm must demonstrate that its plan is compatible with regulatory objectives to promote and protect public interest and improve access to justice. They must also show that there is no other way to achieve their set out objective.

Whilst waivers for certain regulation can be requested already the regulator states that further system flexibility could help to improve access to legal services at a competitive cost.

Paul Philip, Chief Executive, said: “Thank you to the firms and organisations that responded to our consultation. Most people supported our proposals to get out of the way of businesses that want to offer legal services in different ways.

“We have trialled our proposed approach through our SRA Innovate initiative, which provides a safe space for firms to try new services, with good results. Changing how we manage and publish waivers will also help firms, while making sure that the public is protected.”

The announcement, along with dates for the regional innovation events can be found here.

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