SRA European Cross-border Practice Rules 2011

Version 18 of the Handbook was published on 1 November 2016. For more information, please click "History" above.

SRA European Cross-border Practice Rules 2011

Rules dated 17 June 2011 commencing 6 October 2011 made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Board under sections 31, 79 and 80 of the Solicitors Act 1974, sections 9 and 9A of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 and section 83 of the Legal Services Act 2007, with the approval of the Legal Services Board under paragraph 19 of Schedule 4 to the Legal Services Act 2007.

Part 1: General

Rule 1: Purpose
1.1

The purpose of these rules is to set the standard for professional conduct in the context of European cross-border practice.

Rule 2: Application
2.1

In these rules:

(a)

European cross-border practice means:

(i)

professional activity in a CCBE state other than the UK, whether or not you are physically present in that CCBE state; and

(ii)

any professional contact with a lawyer of a CCBE state other than the UK.

(b)

Professional contacts and professional activities taking place within a firm or in-house legal department do not constitute European cross-border practice.

2.2

These rules apply to European cross-border practice from any office by:

(a)

solicitors ;

(b)

managers of authorised bodies who are lawyers of England and Wales;

(c)

non-lawyer  managers of authorised bodies;

(d)

managers of authorised bodies who are registered with the Bar Standards Board under the Establishment Directive; and

(e)

authorised bodies .

2.3

These rules also apply to European cross-border practice from an office in England and Wales by:

(a)

RELs ; and

(b)

any RFL who is a manager or an employee of an authorised body.

Part 2: Substantive provisions

Rule 3: Occupations considered incompatible with legal practice
3.1

If you act in legal proceedings or proceedings before public authorities in a CCBE state other than the UK, you must, in that state, comply with any rules regarding occupations incompatible with the practice of law, as if you were a lawyer of that state, whether or not you are based at an office in that state.

3.2

If you are a solicitor based at an office in a CCBE state other than the UK, you must respect any rules regarding participation in commercial or other activities not connected with the practice of law, as they are applied to lawyers of that state.

Rule 4: Fee sharing with non-lawyers
4.1

You must not share your professional fees with a non-lawyer situated in a CCBE state other than the UK except:

(a)

within a firm and only as permitted under the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011; or

(b)

with a retired manager, member, owner or predecessor of the firm, or the dependants or personal representatives of a deceased manager, member, owner or predecessor.

4.2

If you are practising from an office in a CCBE state other than the UK, whether or not you are actually present at that office, you must not share your professional fees from that practice with a non-lawyer, except:

(a)

within a firm, and only as permitted under the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011; or

(b)

with a retired manager, member, owner or predecessor of the firm, or the dependants or personal representatives of a deceased manager, member, owner or predecessor.

Rule 5: Co-operation between lawyers of different CCBE states
5.1

If you are approached by a lawyer of a CCBE state other than the UK to undertake work which you are not competent to undertake, you must assist that lawyer to obtain the information necessary to find and instruct a lawyer capable of providing the service asked for.

5.2

When co-operating with a lawyer of a CCBE state other than the UK you must take into account the differences which may exist between your respective legal systems and the professional organisations, competencies and obligations of lawyers in your respective states.

Rule 6: Correspondence between lawyers in different CCBE states
6.1

If you are practising from an office in a CCBE state and you want to send to a lawyer in a different CCBE state (with the exception of the UK) a communication which you wish to remain "confidential" or "without prejudice", you must, before sending the communication, clearly express your intention in order to avoid misunderstanding, and ask if the lawyer is able to accept the communication on that basis. When you send the communication you must express your intention clearly at the head of the communication or in a covering letter.

6.2

If you are the intended recipient of a communication from a lawyer in another CCBE state which is stated to be "confidential" or "without prejudice", but which you are unable to accept on the basis intended by that lawyer, you must inform the sender accordingly without delay. If the communication has already been sent you must return it unread without revealing the contents to others. If you have already read the communication and you are under a professional duty to reveal it to your client you must inform the sender of this immediately.

Rule 7: Paying referral fees to non-lawyers
7.1

You must not pay a fee, commission or any other compensation to a non-lawyer as a consideration for referring a client to you:

(a)

if the non-lawyer is situated in a CCBE state other than the UK; or

(b)

if you are practising from an office in a CCBE state other than the UK, whether or not you are physically present at that office.

Rule 8: Disputes between lawyers in different member states
8.1

If you consider that a lawyer in a CCBE state other than the UK has acted in breach of a rule of professional conduct you must draw the breach to the other lawyer's attention.

8.2

Before commencing any form of proceedings against the other lawyer, you must inform the Law Society and the other lawyer's bar or law society in order to allow them an opportunity to assist in resolving the matter.

Rule 9: Fee of lawyers of other CCBE states
9.1

If in the course of practice you instruct a lawyer of a CCBE state other than the UK you must, as a matter of professional conduct, pay the lawyer's proper fees unless the lawyer is practising as a lawyer of England and Wales; or

(a)

you have expressly disclaimed that responsibility at the outset, or at a later date you have expressly disclaimed responsibility for any fees incurred after that date;

(b)

the lawyer is an REL or is registered with the Bar of England and Wales under the Establishment Directive; or

(c)

the lawyer is an RFL based in England and Wales and practising in a firm.

9.2

If in the course of practice you instruct a business carrying on the practice of a lawyer of a CCBE state other than the UK you must, as a matter of professional conduct, pay the proper fees for the work that lawyer does, unless:

(a)

you have expressly disclaimed that responsibility at the outset, or at a later date you have expressly disclaimed responsibility for any fees incurred after that date; or

(b)

the business is a firm.

Part 3: Interpretation and transitional provisions

Rule 10: Interpretation
10.1

The SRA Handbook Glossary 2012 shall apply and, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a)

all italicised terms shall be defined; and

(b)

all terms shall be interpreted,

in accordance with the Glossary.

Rule 11: Transitional Provisions
11.1

These rules shall not apply to licensed bodies until such time as the Society is designated as a licensing authority under Part 1 of Schedule 10 to the LSA and all definitions shall be construed accordingly.

11.2

References in the preamble to the rules being made under section 83 of the Legal Services Act 2007 shall have no effect until such time as the Society is designated as a licensing authority under Part 1 of Schedule 10 to the LSA.