Crackdown ordered on referral fees

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is to crack down on abuse of the rules governing referral fees, it was announced today (Thursday 30 November).

The move follows a resolution passed by the SRA board in September to examine the underlying principles of the current referral fee arrangements.

The SRA, also known as the Law Society Regulation Board, is to prioritise checks on solicitors to make sure they are following the rules and principles of referral fees. However if the enforcement campaign does not work the authority may ban referral fees altogether.

SRA chair Peter Williamson said in a statement: “This profession has got to get its house in order on referral arrangements. We know there are huge commercial pressures here, but the key principles that solicitors should act independently and in the best interests of their clients must be upheld.”

Williamson said the SRA research had uncovered “some shocking breaches of the rules”.

As well as an information campaign to ensure the profession is aware of the rules, the SRA is investigating the possibility of criminal sanctions where solicitors are not complying.