The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales. It regulates more than 200,000 solicitors in England and Wales.
The stated purpose of the SRA is to protect the public by ensuring that solicitors meet high standards, and by acting when risks are identified. The solicitors’ profession includes single-solicitor practices and huge firms with a global presence and thousands of lawyers. Solicitors also work in the justice system, in government and within companies.
Due to the involvement of solicitors in the sharing of legal correspondence and shaping the pre-action process, the role of the SRA cannot be understated. However, the SRA has been making progress. On 4th March 2022, the SRA mentioned SLAPPs for the first time in its updated guidance on Conduct in Disputes, where it defined SLAPPs and identified features that solicitors should be vigilant in their guarding against, such as:
- making excessive or meritless claims, aggressive and intimidating threats
- otherwise acting in a way which fails to meet the wider public interest principles
- duties to which solicitors must have regard, and which are highlighted in this guidance.
The guidance also goes on to highlight the importance of identifying SLAPPs when guarding against the pursuing of litigation for improper purposes, as a core approach used by this form of legal abuse is making allegations without merit where the sole purpose is to stifle valid public discourse.