The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is funded by the solicitors’ profession through the Law Society and incurs no cost to the public purse.
Some public funding is given, however, to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) which, although independent of both the SRA and the Law Society, is an integral element of the profession’s disciplinary arrangements. This funding amounted to £55,569.47 in the financial year from April 2006 to March 2007; and £49,259.49 in the calendar year from January to September 2007. These figures include spends on SDT fees, social security contributions and travel and subsistence payments.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) board consists of 16 members—nine solicitors (one of whom chairs the board) and seven lay people. Board members were appointed for a term of four years from 1 January 2006.
The current board members are:
Peter Williamson (Chair); Alan Baker; Yvonne Brown; Duncan Gear; Sally Irvine; Alan Kershaw; Sir Stephen Lander; Andrew Long; Penelope Owston; Sally Ruthen; Edward Solomons; Dr. Jonathan Spencer; John Stoker; Richard Taylor; Stephen Walzer; and Stephen Whittle.
Full details about the board members can be found on the SRA’s website.
I am not aware of any formal representations received by this Department about the effectiveness of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). However, several Members of Parliament have explicitly endorsed the SRA’s efficiency and effectiveness in handling specific regulatory issues. In addition, this Department routinely receives general correspondence from Members of Parliament and from the public concerning the SRA.
The Secretary of State has not met with Antony Townsend in his capacity as Chief Executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Mr. Townsend has, however, met with Ministers on several occasions since his appointment. I hosted the most recent of these meetings on 10 July 2007.
I am not aware of any representations received by this Department from ethnic minority firms about their treatment by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). However, as a result of internal concerns about a statistical disparity showing that black and minority ethnic solicitors were over-represented in regulatory decisions, the SRA commissioned an external analysis of this issue, resulting in the publication in July 2006 of the report “The impact of regulatory decisions of the Investigations and Enforcement Unit on black and minority ethnic solicitors”. The SRA is now following a programme of action aimed at discharging its responsibility for protecting the public interest fairly and in a manner that is non-discriminatory.