The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that they will visit personal injury firms in person to ensure that they are not violating the referral fee ban and to inspect that the methods they are using to maintain business, comply with the new regulations.
SRA Chief Executive, Antony Townsend confirmed the plans to visit firms at their monthly board meeting saying that supervision officers will ask how PI firms are approaching the change and whether or not they are compliant with the new legislations.
He added: “This will include visits to a variety of sizes and types of firms, covering a range of referral schemes, and we will particularly focus on how firms obtain personal injury work, and what information and advice is given to clients about any referral arrangements.”
It was also confirmed that the SRA will also write to a ‘large number of firms’ in advance of the visits to inform them that they are going to be inspected.
This will create further worry for personal injury firms as a breach of the referral fee ban is punishable from a range of £2,000 fines to the revoking of their authorisation to practice via referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
The news comes on top of the announcement that the ministry of justice will be investigating the relationship between claims management companies and legal firms, including inspection of their financial agreements to ensure that no foul play is taking place.