Regulator issues ‘what not to do’ social media guide for solicitors amid rise in complaints

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Just days after a law firm partner was sanctioned following anti-Semitic Facebook rant

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has been moved to issue a profession-wide warning about social media etiquette following an increase in complaints.

The new notice reminds solicitors to double-check that all online communications are professional, lawful and (in light of recent events) not offensive. Moreover, the regulator has stressed that “offensive or inappropriate” comments made on sites such as Facebook and Twitter in a “personal capacity” could be be classed as misconduct if the poster can be identified as a solicitor.

According to the notice posted this morning, online no-nos include:

SRA chief executive, Paul Philip, said:

We expect solicitors to act at all times with integrity, including on social media and when commenting in what may seem to be a personal capacity. Public confidence in the profession is undermined by offensive or inappropriate communication and the misuse of social media can be a real problem.

The fresh warning follows a number of recent regulatory sanctions involving offensive communications.

Majid Mahmood, a director at Luton firm Liberty Law Solicitors, was handed a 12-month suspension (itself suspended for 12 months) and a £25,000 fine last week after posting anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist comments on Facebook. His personal profile, since deleted, stated that he was a solicitor.

Meanwhile, Chelsea-based solicitor Stefano Lucatello was hauled before a tribunal earlier this summer after he, among other things, sent an email to a litigant-in-person accusing of her of arguing with a judge “like a fisherwoman”. He was slapped with a £5,000 fine.

And then there’s the high-profile case of DLA Piper partner Nick West. The sports law specialist was fined £15,000 and ordered to cough up costs of £12,000 last year after it emerged that he had exchanged a number of sexist emails with a high profile client.

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