Regulatory Expert Andrew Hopper QC has lashed out about the guidance offered by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) on referral fees, claiming it was ‘extremely unhelpful’ and only targeted the extremes of behaviour surrounding them.
Mr Hopper has been widely consulted on compliance with the referral fee ban since its inception and was particularly critical of the SRA’s warning over agreeing with an introducer to deduct money from clients’ damages, claiming that solicitors should not need to worry about doing so as long as they have client consent.
He said: “The idea that a client isn’t going to get all of his damages is not problematic, although there have been times during the history of the SRA when they have seemed to think that any deductions from damages is bad.
“But this plainly is wrong, particularly in the present post-LASPO climate. So this guidance is probably aimed at extremes of behaviour.”
Mr Hopper also spoke out against the offering of inducement to clients which the SRA has advised solicitors that they can do saying: “The SRA is not saying ‘do it’ – they’ve done what the SRA does and issued unhelpful guidance about it, which is entirely consistent with outcomes-focused regulation. It’s a sort of warning thing which says: “we’re not saying you can’t but we really don’t like it.”
The government recently revealed that they intend on tackling issues such as third party capture and inducements in a bid to reduce the number of small claims such as whiplash being made after last week’s decision not to increase the small claims limit.
1. Solicitors Regulation Authority; https://www.sra.org.uk/home/home.page