The solicitors’ handbook could be slashed from 600 pages to around 50 under plans announced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).  The new rules will set “a collection of values and behaviours that solicitors should adhere to,” according to SRA executive director, Crispin Passmore.

The regulator is part way through a review of its regulatory process announced in its Looking to the future position paper last November.  The possible format of the new handbook was revealed by Crispin Passmore at the SRA Innovate conference in March 2016.  He indicated that the solicitors’ code of conduct could be cut to just ten pages – with five pages of rules for firms and five pages for individuals.

The new handbook could eliminate prescriptive rules.  “We don’t need to explain in detail what is permitted, solicitors just need to know our position,” said Crispin Passmore.  The SRA is planning to consult on its plans in May and June 2016.  Any changes are likely to be approved in the autumn.

This is a radical new approach to rule making by the SRA,” said James Page, Director- Head of Client Servicing, Brunel Professional Risks, said: “If the new rules go ahead solicitors who find themselves subject to regulatory intervention may have to prove that they have complied with the principles of the regulations.  This could be far harder than proving whether a specific rule has been broken or not.”

The proposed changes have been reported by the Law Society Gazette and Solicitors Journal.