Getting Your (In) House In Order

Until recently, you could be forgiven for believing that in-house lawyers seldom appear on the SRA’s radar and enjoy certain carve-outs from the SRA…

Until recently, you could be forgiven for believing that in-house lawyers seldom appear on the SRA’s radar and enjoy certain carve-outs from the SRA Handbook.

Recently there has been increased focus on in-house teams and a flurry of news articles, most of which have been negative, following the ‘issues’ identified at Wonga, the Student Loan Company and some high-street banks.

Most recently, Lloyds were criticised by the Treasury Select Committee for sending "sham" debt recovery letters to consumers and small businesses (under the guise of SCM Solicitors). Lloyds failed to convince the committee "that the letters were not calculated to mislead" and the Committee has now written to the leading banks in the UK – Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland – asking them to confirm how many letters of this nature had been sent and the reasons for doing so.

It is clear to us that many in-house solicitors may feel caught between a rock and hard place In recent research where over 2000 in-house lawyers participated, some 10% stated that they think that their employer does not understand their professional obligations as a solicitor and included some suggestions that the employer places a high degree of trust in the legal team to manage their own professional responsibilities, or that the legal team is small compared with the size of the organisation and so, from a business perspective, the professional obligations of the legal team are of low relative importance.

In-house need to get to grips with the SRA Handbook – the Code of Conduct and the Practice Framework Rules – to avoid further regulatory scrutiny and criticism.

We can help. compli@weightmans.com

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