Introduction to the SRA Code of Conduct

Overview

Outcomes-focused regulation concentrates on providing positive outcomes which when achieved will benefit and protect clients and the public. The SRA Code of Conduct (the Code) sets out our outcomes-focused conduct requirements so that you can consider how best to achieve the right outcomes for your clients taking into account the way that your firm works and its client base. The Code is underpinned by effective, risk-based supervision and enforcement.

Those involved in providing legal advice and representation have long held the role of trusted adviser. There are fiduciary duties arising from this role and obligations owed to others, especially the court. No code can foresee or address every issue or ethical dilemma which may arise. You must strive to uphold the intention of the Code as well as its letter.

The Principles

The Code forms part of the Handbook, in which the 10 mandatory Principles are all-pervasive. They apply to all those we regulate and to all aspects of practice. They define the fundamental ethical and professional standards that we expect of all firms and individuals (including owners who may not be lawyers) when providing legal services. You should always have regard to the Principles and use them as your starting point when faced with an ethical dilemma.

Where two or more Principles come into conflict the one which takes precedence is the one which best serves the public interest in the particular circumstances, especially the public interest in the proper administration of justice. Compliance with the Principles is also subject to any overriding legal obligations.

You must:

1.         uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;

2.         act with integrity;

3.         not allow your independence to be compromised;

4.         act in the best interests of each client;

5.         provide a proper standard of service to your clients;

6.         behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;

7.         comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;

8.         run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;

9.         run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and

10.        protect client money and assets.

Structure of the Code

The Code is divided into 5 sections:

You and your client

You and your business

You and your regulator

You and others

Application, waivers and interpretation

Mandatory provisions

The following provisions are mandatory:

the outcomes;

the application and waivers provisions in Chapter 13;

the interpretations; and

the transitional provisions in Chapter 15.

Non-mandatory provisions

The following provisions are non-mandatory:

indicative behaviours;

notes.

 

For further information and guidance please visit www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbookprinciples/contentpage