A Question of Trust from SRA

Paul Philip (SRA CEO) describes the ‘Question of Trust’ (QoT) campaign as about finding the “right balance” when making regulatory decisions, framed as part of a wider programme of reform on the theme of professionalism.

Stephen Vaughan, Senior Lecturer in Law at University of Birmingham, has some interesting comments.

A question of Trust reflections

SRA tells solicitors: explain your separate business set-up

Firms will also be allowed to refer cases to the separate business with which they are attached, but only if it is in the client’s best interests.

The client’s consent to waving their confidentiality ‘must be clear and they cannot be forced to do so’, the guidance states. This request to waive confidentiality must be clear and separate to any other terms.

Law Gazette

Bar Direct Access Portal


The Direct Access Portal is the Bar Council’s latest development in attracting Direct Access

Alistair MacDonald, QC, chairman of the Bar, described the latest online offering as having “revolutionised” the direct access model. He said: “It used to be that the only way you could benefit from the services of a barrister was through a solicitor. Now, in many instances, you can keep costs down by going directly to a barrister.”


The Law Society, which represents the 150,000 solicitors in England and Wales, was brief in its response to the Bar’s attack. A spokesman said simply: “Solicitors provide vital support to clients in contentious matters. While clients can instruct barristers directly and have been able to do for some time, solicitors provide a wider range of services, which is why many clients choose to instruct a solicitor first.”

CQS 3000 firms and Small Business Division

Jonathan Smithers, president of the Law Society, delivered a speech at the International Bar Association (IBA) conference in Vienna.

“We have also introduced various accreditation schemes relating to specific practice areas to enable our members to differentiate themselves in the market.

Our Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme, for example, aims to boost the competitiveness of qualified lawyers in the will writing market by assuring consumers of highest standards of delivery and client centred services.

Our Conveyancing Quality Scheme, which has some 3000 member firms, has captured the market’s imagination and helped to satisfy the concerns of major lenders in the residential property arena, leading to their decision to keep firms of all sizes on their panels.

This was a crucial exercise for the Law Society as it enabled us to support, promote and represent small firms to mighty commercial lenders, whereas previously the inequality of bargaining position made their position untenable.

We have also established a Small Firms Division so that we can bring together solicitors to share best practice and address current issues and challenges in a supportive environment.”

Changes to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation process

President of the Law Society Jonathan Smithers said:

‘We are pleased to announce these improvements. CQS is a valuable quality mark for firms which helps them to stand out from the competition, gain access to several lender panels, and demonstrate to clients that they follow best practice, and meet the highest standards of technical expertise and client service.

‘The revisions will streamline the administration of the scheme, saving time and resources for our members. Just as importantly they will ensure that the rigour of the application process remains, and ensure that there is robust monitoring of firms within the scheme.’

Speeding up CQS Applications

Proposals for consumer credit regulation adopted by SRA Board

The SRA Board approved on 9th September 2015 that there is no need for solicitors to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are not over-burdened with significant additional rules for consumer credit, and that their client protections remain in place.

SRA Consumer Credit


Chris Owen – Chairman

ACL Logo

Chris Owen Pic

Chris Owen

Chris became articled to the senior partner of a law firm in Leicester in 1968. He ran the firm’s higher courts department until 1977 when he was approached to join a local barristers chambers as senior clerk. He stayed there until 1988 when he was headhunted to join what is now known as 7 Bedford Row. He had 12 happy years there but decided to leave when he was 50 or when he had his 20th silk, thankfully both occurred in the same year.

In the last 15 years Chris has been a Chief Executive in leading chambers in London and Birmingham, latterly St Philips Chambers from 2009 to 2012. He has also been the CEO of a law firm in London and Bristol; the Commercial Director of ADR group for whom he opened a London office; a Director in several companies including IT, Property, Legal Recruitment, Legal Couriers and now Audit Compliance Limited.

He has sat on a dozen Bar Council committees over the years and chaired several national conferences and workshops/seminars in relation to pro bono (as Vice Chairman of the Bar Pro Bono Unit); best practice (as an advisor to BSI on how to manage a common law chambers in the run up to Barmark) and equality/diversity (as the bar clerk member on that committee).

He sat on the Bar Nursery Committee twice and helped negotiate with its Chair the successful London and Leeds nursery deals.

He has experience of managing and advising on mergers for law firms and chambers.

He is the immediate past Chairman of the Birmingham Law Society, immediate past Chairman of Governors at a large primary  school in Birmingham and has been heavily involved with St Philips Cathedral in Birmingham, in particular the Tercentenary Committee organising their 300 year celebrations.

He was given a lifetime achievement award by Birmingham Law Society at their  Legal Awards evening at the ICC in March 2017. In his business life he is a legal recruiter/headhunter in London and Birmingham.

Birmingham Law Society

Chris is a season ticket holder at Leicester City, an Associate Member of MCC and a Liveryman of the City of London

BSB employed barristers

BSB plans to relax restrictions on employed barristers

See Gazette article

Veyo departures and appointments

Changes at Veyo

Now all change at Legal Practice Technologies [LPT] with new challenges from Free2Convey, Free2Convey portal the Free to Use Conveyancing Portal backed by the Legal Software Suppliers Association [LSSA]

New LPT chief executive Simon Drane said “The first job for any new CEO is to review and evaluate the product.

“This will identify what needs to be done to make Veyo available to conveyancers as soon as we are satisfied that it has the functions and usability to be a market leader.”

The Law Society has invested over £5m in Legal Practice Technologies, the joint venture set up to deliver Veyo.

ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System now updated

ISO 9001:2015 the Quality Management System is designed to respond to the latest trends and be compatible with other management systems such as ISO 14001.

ISO 9001 Revision