The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) remain concerned over the reluctance by some to report criminal defence touting. Only one formal complaint has been made to the SRA about a solicitor touting in this area.
The code of conduct states that solicitors are banned from approaching possible new clients face to face to attempt to increase business. The SRA said in 2016 that they were going to put more effort into reducing solicitor ‘touting’. Despite this the regulator has said that some firms are reluctant to report touting and has reminded Solicitors that they are obligated to report any misconduct by third parties.
The most common way of touting by third parties are clients in custody being approached by another firm, and clients receiving unsolicited letters.
The SRA said: ‘Solicitors are under an obligation to report misconduct where they find it, so any instances of touting should be reported. In terms of evidence and action we take, we have informed firms that while we may not be able to act on individual reports, they may help to build up an emerging picture. Since our statement on 28 October 2016, we have received very few reports of touting.’
Simon Bladen at Hawsons Chartered Accountants has said, “This is a difficult area for the SRA to investigate adequately without evidence. Tipping off can help the SRA to get to the root of the issue earlier and gives a better chance for them to take action.”
Firms are reminded that touting takes place at courts, prisons or police stations rather than at office premises, and that they should remain vigilant.
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