Firms threatened with public scoldings

There is yet more activity in the world of… er… complaining about lawyers. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which until this month was known as the Law Society Regulation Authority, is consulting the profession on whether to make its reprimands public.

The SRA looks after education and training, indemnity insurance and ethics, and crucially is the body to which the Legal Complaints Service refers complaints if discipline needs to be enforced.

The SRA has responsibility for prosecuting lawyers at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. It also has discretion to punish with merely a ‘reprimand’ or ‘serious reprimand’ – the profession’s equivalent of a stern word from teacher – certainly not a serious discouragement for cynical school rebels.

But under the new proposals reprimanded firms could be publicly branded as such. Rather than relying on mere conscience alone, the damage to reputations would force solicitors to behave by hitting them where it hurts – in their pockets.