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Latest SRA Handbook includes consumer credit changes

07 Apr 2014

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published Version 9 of its Handbook – it came into effect on 1 April 2014.

One of the key amendments to the Handbook is the change to the SRA Financial Services (Scope) Rules which has resulted from the transfer of the regulation of consumer credit activities from the Office of Fair Trading to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

With the transfer of regulation, firms need to consider whether they meet the criteria set out in Part 20 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (sections 327 and 332(4)) (FiSMA) and are therefore exempt from FCA authorisation. Where the criteria are not met, firms need to apply to the FCA for interim permission, or cease to carry on consumer credit activities. Firms should already be familiar with the Part 20 regime in relation to financial services, but this will now also be relevant to consumer credit activities. Firms now carrying on consumer credit activities without interim permission from the FCA or falling within the Part 20 exemption will be in breach of FCA regulations.

The SRA has already produced guidance for firms, with updated guidance due to be released in the coming weeks. That guidance can be found at www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/finserscope/resources.page.

Other changes to the Handbook are:

  • The SRA Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2011 have been amended to exempt the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court from their scope, meaning solicitors do not have to hold the Higher Rights qualification in order to appear in hearings at this court, and
  • A change to implementation dates in the SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Regulations 2013.

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