News release

Solicitors reminded of responsibilities in disrupted criminal cases

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reminded solicitors in very high cost criminal cases (VHCCs) of their responsibilities following a number of calls to the Professional Ethics helpline.

The SRA has received queries from solicitors who have sought to instruct barristers in these cases but have experienced difficulties in doing so. Because the issue might affect numerous others, the Authority has posted two Questions of Ethics on its website to guide solicitors in the same position.

Crispin Passmore, SRA Executive Director for Policy, said: "This is an important issue and goes to the heart of the application of the SRA Principles and the duties of a solicitor both to their client and to the proper administration of justice. The guidance we have issued applies clear and long standing principles and helping firms and solicitors meet their responsibilities in accordance with the SRA Code of Conduct.

"We will of course issue further guidance if we identify other common enquiries from solicitors affected by this."

The two questions deal with instructing advocates for clients in cases affected by the current issues surrounding the appointment of advocates in publicly funded complex cases, and the responsibilities solicitors have to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice as required by Principle 1 of the SRA Code of Conduct.

In addition, the SRA has issued guidance this week for firms tendering for criminal legal aid services contracts. The guidance covers key considerations firms need to keep in mind when applying for own client contracts and Duty Provider Crime Contracts.

View the Questions of Ethics posted by the Professional Ethics Team.

Contact information for the Professional Ethics helpline.

View the guidance on criminal legal aid applicants.

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