The SRA is adamant that ‘outcomes-focused’ does not mean ‘light-touch’

first_img‘Principles-based regulation will sustain the current, rigorous regulatory environment, but with better and more effective outcomes.’ No, that’s not what the SRA says about today’s implementation of outcomes-focused regulation – but what the Financial Services Authority said about its own switch to an ‘outcome-focused’ compliance regime back in April 2007. And we know what happened subsequently, because we are still living with the dire consequences. There remains cause for bemusement that the legal sector was keen to ape an organisation that so abysmally failed to anticipate the banking crisis. But the parallels should not be overplayed. SRA chief executive Antony Townsend has been punctilious – one might even say ‘prescriptive’ – in his insistence that OFR is not ‘light-touch’ regulation and will not mean a lowering of standards. If it works, and that remains to be seen, OFR does have the potential to free solicitors from box-ticking and form-filling. And as Tony Guise points out in his mini ‘user-guide’, OFR differs from other ostensibly ‘risk-based’ systems because there is a wealth of prescriptive rules in the new Handbook underpinning the SRA’s putative culture change. Like Dr Pangloss then, we must hope that ‘all’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds’. We will certainly be interested to hear of your experiences as OFR beds in.last_img

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