New guidance for in-house solicitors on reporting wrongdoing announced in the UK

The initiative is a response to the growing need for clear directives on reporting concerns

New guidance for in-house solicitors on reporting wrongdoing announced in the UK

The United Kingdom’s Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has unveiled draft guidance to provide clarity and support to in-house solicitors facing ethical dilemmas, the Law Society Gazette reported.

The initiative comes as a response to the growing need for clear directives on identifying clients, reporting concerns about wrongdoing, and managing internal investigations within a corporate environment. Additionally, the guidance outlines the professional obligations of solicitors, addressing the complexities that in-house legal professionals encounter, especially when they suspect their employer of improper conduct.

Juliet Oliver, SRA general counsel, emphasized the importance of the new guidance, citing recent high-profile legal cases and the unique challenges faced by in-house solicitors. “‘We have been working closely with the in-house community over the past year to consider what support we can offer to address some of these challenges. We believe these resources will provide valuable support and guidance to in-house solicitors across a range of important issues,” Oliver said.

The legal community has echoed the call for more detailed guidance, with Professor Richard Moorhead, an academic expert on the legal profession, pointing out the in-house community's urgent request for clear instructions on maintaining compliance and independence amidst employer pressures. This sentiment was shared at the recent Legal Services Board conference.

The SRA's in-house conference in London is anticipated to be a platform for further discussion on the guidance. The legal community, including the Law Society, has welcomed the initiative.

A Law Society spokesperson said, “The competing pressures that often arise from the unique position occupied by in-house solicitors and their duties to the wider public interest and employer clients must not be underestimated. This is a good start, but further guidance and detail are needed to ensure the in-house community is adequately supported to navigate these challenges.”

The SRA is actively seeking feedback from professionals in the sector to ensure the guidance effectively supports their needs.

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