Question of ethics archive

Important: The guidance below was written and issued before the introduction of the SRA Handbook on 6 October 2011, and may refer to regulatory material that is no longer in effect. Although it may still be relevant, this guidance has not been rewritten in light of the wide-ranging regulatory changes implemented on 6 October 2011. Accordingly, it has been archived.

October 2009

Requirement to display regulatory information on letterhead, email, website

Q. Am I correct in thinking that the requirements in respect of the information which must appear on my notepaper are due to change in October 2009?

Yes, if your firm is a recognised body (i.e. a partnership, an LLP or a company). From 1 October 2009, rule 7.07(1) of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2009 requires not just your letterhead (including your fax heading), but also your emails and your website to show the following information:

  • the words "regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority"; and
  • the name and number under which the firm is registered at Companies House if your firm is an LLP or a company, or
  • the name under which the firm is recognised by the SRA and its SRA number if your firm is a partnership or you are a recognised sole practitioner (you can find your firm's SRA number—also known as the head office ID number—by searching for it on the Law Society's Find a Solicitor service, but note—recognised sole practitioners have until 1 January 2010 to comply with the rule).

How you format the information is a matter for you. For a firm which is a partnership or sole practice, one way of dealing with it would be:

  • "Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, no. 12345";

or for an LLP:

  • "Limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales, no.12345 – regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority".

However, if you use a trading name, you will also need to show the firm's recognised name or (if the firm is a company or LLP) its registered name.

Rule 7.07 only applies to your practice in England & Wales—for the requirements in respect of your practice overseas, see rule 15.07.

Description of unpaid disbursement in bill or written notification of costs

Q. I was under the impression that any disbursements on our bill must be marked as paid or unpaid. However, when I raised this point with a law costs draftsman, he said this was not their practice. What is the correct position?