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SRA rebukes Reed Smith over rule breach

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Global outfit ‘failed to properly distinguish between itself and its connected practice’ when dealing with freezing order

Reed Smith’s London office

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued Reed Smith with a written rebuke after it was found to have breached the regulator’s professional code.

The firm “failed to properly distinguish between itself and its connected practice, being Reed Smith LLP of Delaware, USA, both internally and in external correspondence, when dealing with a US freezing order dated 13 September 2012”, according to a notice published this week by the regulator.

It was found that the firm’s conduct amounted to a breach of SRA principle 6, not to behave in a way that maintains the public’s trust and confidence in it, and a failure to achieve outcome 7.12 of the code of conduct, which requires the firm to identify, monitor and manage all risks to its business which may arise from its connected practices.

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A Reed Smith spokesperson said: “We hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take full responsibility to ensure we meet them.”

They said the firm “is a business owned by a single US partnership that operates internationally through a number of separate legal entities, established in jurisdictions outside of the US and regulated by regulators specific to each jurisdiction”.

The spokesperson added: “A mistake was made due to a lack of comprehensive understanding of Reed Smith’s operating structure. Since this incident came to light, we have strengthened our policies and procedures in order to ensure we uphold the highest professional and ethical standards.”

Reed Smith was issued with, and accepted, a written rebuke and a costs order of £1,350.

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