New professional benchmark for software vendors
Press Release. 26th September 2018
Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) implements new Code of Conduct
The LSSA has recently introduced an enhanced code of conduct which all member companies have agreed to adhere to. This code of conduct is a commitment to law firms from LSSA member companies of the high standard of professional excellence they can expect to receive. The code is backed by the Association’s disciplinary procedure. This new benchmark will give law firms confidence that LSSA members will operate to high professional and ethical standards.
LSSA Chair Julian Bryan comments: “The LSSA code of conduct ensures that LSSA members act as ‘good and upstanding’ suppliers to the legal services market. The code gives law firms the confidence that if they use the services of an LSSA member company they will be treated ethically and with the utmost professionalism.”
Tackling an industry issue head-on, one of the key tenets of the code is that LSSA members must recognise the right of customers to move between software systems and facilitate such moves with provision of customers’ data in a reasonable timescale and at reasonable cost. This is covered by a data transfer white paper shortly to be released.
In another move, the LSSA which has been established for 22 years, has now formalised its legal status into a company limited by guarantee.
The full code of conduct is shown below and can be seen on the LSSA website here:
About the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA)
The LSSA is the UK industry body for legal systems developers and vendors. Representing most of the leading UK suppliers, the LSSA sets and maintains professional standards within the legal software industry, and also manages areas of mutual interest between lawyers and software providers. The LSSA is committed to developing clear channels of communication, so that law firms can gain the maximum benefit from their selected software solutions.
The LSSA provides a highly representative and unified voice for the legal software industry and is therefore best placed to provide a strong focus in establishing standards and cooperation between suppliers, professional bodies, and government organisations. The association has set up and actively contributes to a number of different working parties and forums, representing and lobbying on behalf of its members with government bodies such as HM Land Registry, HMRC and the LAA as well as other organisations within the legal market such as the Law Society.
LSSA Code of Conduct:
By joining or renewing membership of the LSSA each member undertakes to comply with the obligations set our below in order to promote high levels of service quality to the legal profession.
Failure to adhere to the Code of Practice or any part hereof is a disciplinary offence under the Rules of the LSSA.
- Members must recognise that the success of the Association and of its Members relies upon members behaving as ‘good and upstanding’ suppliers to the legal services market place.
- Members must agree that their membership is publicly confirmed via the Association’s website, and/or in any general publicity material generated by the Association.
- Members must ensure that appropriate Principals, Directors, Managers and members of staff are aware of the requirement to comply with this Code of Conduct.
- Members must provide their customers with a copy of this Code of Conduct on request.
- Members must ensure that their customers are protected from their mistakes with adequate Professional Indemnity cover or other appropriate arrangements.
- Members must ensure that their customers are protected in the event that they cease trading (e.g. through liquidation) and can obtain relevant software source code or access to relevant portal functionality through Escrow Agreements or other appropriate arrangements should they wish to participate.
- Members must provide an adequate level of customer service (for example, but not limited to, training, documentation, support services, on-line instructions) in order to enable their customers to successfully use their software.
- Members must recognise the right of customers to move between software systems and facilitate such moves with provision of customers’ data in a reasonable timescale and at reasonable cost.
- Members must comply with relevant legislation and statutory requirements (for example, but not limited to, GDPR).
- Members must not induce recommendations from consultants or other advisors or subsequently reward such recommendations.
- Members must not make disparaging remarks or inaccurate statements relating to other Members or their products.
- Members must act reasonably and fairly towards customers and other Members.
- Members must ensure that details of their products, services and charges; and the responsibilities of the customer, are adequately explained and recorded. In particular, the following should be included where relevant:
- Import and transformation of data from previous system
- System configuration and set-up
- Addition and removal of users
- Ability to access data using third-party tools
- Export and transformation of data to any successor system
- Service Level Agreements
- Members must take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety, integrity and confidentiality of customers’ data.
- Members must follow the correct procedures when customer’s data is released to external authority such as the SRA, Police, HMRC. In particular, the following should be considered:
- Confirming the identity of the Requestor
- Documenting the request, together with all dialogue surrounding the event, including why the requestor is not approaching the customer directly
- Seeking a formal “Request for Information under Data Protection Act”. This should describe what data is being sought, from whom and why
- Identifying if access to this data is possible – if not report back and no further action is necessary
- Seeking permission from the client without “tipping off”
- Seeking protection for breach of client confidentiality and requiring a Court Production Order to release any data
- Liaising fully with the requestor to agree the wording of the Court Production Order as only the data specified in the Order may be released
- Releasing the agreed data once the Court Production Order has been acquired
In the case of intervention by the SRA,
- Requesting written confirmation by the intervening practice
- Seeking confirmation from the SRA
- Documenting the request, together with all dialogue surrounding the event
- Members must have a procedure for handling complaints which should:
- Ensure an acknowledgement is given promptly
- Ensure the complaint is investigated by someone with relevant knowledge and authority
- Ensure that the steps for resolution, if any, and formally recorded and available to both parties
- Provide for an unresolved dispute to be escalated to the LSSA for investigation and possible mediation (at parties’ own expense)
- Ensure co-operation with the LSSA and that decisions reached through mediation are carried through
- Members must co-operate with each other to provide system integrations where this would be beneficial to members’ customers
(Note: this does not imply such integration work would be free-of-charge)
For more information please visit www.lssa.co.uk
Media contact: Chaz Brooks, brookscomm firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01483 537890