Challenge adds to SRA's bureaucracy reduction drive

Legal services are to come under the Government's bureaucracy-busting microscope, the Red Tape Challenge, during the first few weeks of June.

And the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has welcomed the chance to look at further opportunities for reducing any regulatory burdens that inhibit the running of successful practices. The SRA's new era of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR), replacing the previous detailed code with a set of principles to guide solicitors to meet clients' needs, has seen the SRA take major steps in that direction already.

The Red Tape Challenge was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron last year in a bid to reduce any layers of bureaucracy that were deemed to inhibit creativity or productivity and therefore boost the economy. A number of areas have already been examined, such as housing, health and safety, and energy, and legal services will get its chance in the spotlight from 31 May to 21 June.

Both the regulated community and the public will be able to feed into an online discussion about what they feel are unnecessary regulations which, if removed, would speed up working practices. These suggestions could either be dealt with directly by the SRA and other regulators, or by the Government itself if legislation needs to be changed.

Antony Townsend, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: "The Red Tape Challenge for us is really an extension of what we're already aiming to achieve through OFR. We've replaced the old detailed Solicitors’ Code of Conduct with a set of principles and indicative behaviours that should help reduce unnecessary regulation.

"If there are regulatory requirements that could genuinely be removed, then we want to hear about it. We'll give proper consideration to whatever's on the table and we look forward to seeing what kind of debates develop."

Those looking to get involved in the Red Tape Challenge should go to the website at www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Regulation will be a specific sub-theme within the legal services section, with the others being distress for rent and bailiff action, sentencing and rehabilitation, criminal justice, and claims management.

All matters raised during the discussions - known as crowdsourcing - will be assessed after 21 June and assigned to the relevant organisation.