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As part of its ongoing work to consider next steps on the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) and consumer protection for negligence claims brought more than six years after a firm has closed, the Solicitors Regulation authority (SRA) has launched a discussion paper on the options.

The new paper explains how further research and engagement has borne out  concerns, raised during previous consultation, that while the number of consumers potentially impacted by historic negligence cases is small, the impact upon them can be significant. It also outlines options being explored for potentially providing future consumer protection in a way that is more cost-effective and proportionate than the SIF in its current form.

Finally the paper invites feedback on some specific issues in relation to any potential future arrangements. These include the approach to claimant costs and claims from large corporate entities.

The SRA is inviting feedback on the issues discussed in the paper by 31 August. It will also be discussing the issues raised directly with key stakeholders, including consumer and legal profession representative groups. All feedback received will help to inform the SRA Board’s further considerations of what next steps to take at its September meeting. It will then hold a consultation as necessary on any next steps.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, said:

“Our work over the last few months has helped us to better understand what consumer protection for negligence claims brought more than six years after a firm has closed can offer some users of legal services. We have also been looking at how best to maintain that protection in a cost-effective and proportionate way. if we decide that’s the right thing to do.

“Our discussion paper sets out our latest thinking. It’s an important next step as we continue to explore any potential options ahead of further discussion in autumn, so I urge all those with an interest to respond to the paper and let us know what you think.”

The SRA’s previous consultation ran from November 2021 to February 2022 and received over 300 responses. A summary of findings and next steps from this was published in April 2022. At this point the SRA also announced that it was seeking a further 12-month extension to the existing SIF arrangements – to September 2023 – to enable detailed consideration of future options.