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Compliance Update November 2021

Hot topics Are you being asked for 'solicitor' undertakings instead of firm undertakings? There has been a recent Supreme Court case on undertakings which may result in LLP and limited company law firms doing property work in particular receiving requests for undertakings from individual solicitors personally rather than by the firm. The legal position does not seem to have changed - the potential for weakness in an entity undertaking has been recognised for a while. But in effect it seems that this new case has done much to publicise the...

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Is this a serious rule breach? 5-step SRA reporting checklist for COLPs, COFAs & law firms

I read a bizarre and sad story recently about a solicitor disciplined by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal following local newspaper reports of him hitting his 71-year old mother in the face with a saucepan. The local press suggested that the solicitor’s defence was that he had simply been watching snooker at the time and had thrown his arms up in disbelief when Ronnie O’Sullivan missed an easy shot and he just happened to be holding a saucepan full of dumplings at the time! It speaks volumes to the cavernous depths of my SRA compliance...

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SRA Price Transparency Law Firm Website Rules: 16 points to check

Reports in the legal press have confirmed that the SRA this week wrote to approximately 8,000 law firms requiring that the COLP (which means Compliance Officer for Legal Practice) declare "whether you have a website that is compliant with the Rules" and which contains the SRA digital badge. This is the same tactic used by the SRA for the money laundering risk assessments and so we know that what will follow are further spot checks. We also know that the SRA has been willing to fine law firms for failing to meet its standards in this area. ...

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Compliance Update July 2021

New rules and guidance from SRA Anti-money laundering ('AML') - SRA priority risk Updated AML Guidance has now been published by the Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG): https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/anti-money-laundering/anti-money-laundering-guidance. Though a long document, it is most likely essential reading at least for the compliance team / MLRO / MLCO. There is a very useful checklist at the beginning. In terms of the key changes, here is a summary of the changes we have made to our standard templates: To add an 'adverse media...

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Compliance Update April 2021

SRA Risk Outlook 2020/2021 The SRA have published their risk outlook for 2020/2021. The outlook considers the market landscape and the effects of Covid-19 and Brexit, primarily the economic impact; The SRA priority risks for 2020/2021 are: AML: Highlighting property work, commercial work and client accounts as highest risks; For property an increasing risk around people pretending to own properties owned by more vulnerable people NEW: Updated AML Guidance has now been published:...

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Solicitors: the SRA (probably) hates your client care letter template

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently published a client care letter checklist (see summary below) on its website to help solicitors assess whether the regulator is likely to find their initial client paperwork suitable or not. For 99.9% of law firms I can probably save you the suspense: the answer is no (sorry!). The SRA has stressed that client care letters should be short, easy to read and make it obvious who will do what next. The SRA even goes so far as to suggest the use of icons. 'Icons!' I hear you say? What has our...

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What is a freelance solicitor?

Today, if you want to work as a solicitor serving the public then you need to work in a regulated law firm. From 25 November 2019 however the SRA will scrap this rule. This means that a solicitor will be able to set up in business selling legal services to the public without opening a regulated law firm.  If you are doing ‘unreserved work’ (such as will writing, employment law, contract drafting, general legal advice) then the implications of working outside of a law firm are a real game-changer: strictly speaking you are not required to...

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Compliance Update January 2017

Rule changes The 18th edition of the SRA Handbook went live on 1 November 2016 and by now all firms should be comfortable that their solicitors are planning their CPD activity for the year.  COLPs in particular should be conscious of their duty to put systems in place to ensure that solicitors in the firm are compliant.  Firms will need to make a declaration during bulk renewals that firms are compliant.  We can help make the process easier in a few ways: we have a free training video and template policy on the new regime on our website; our...

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Compliance is not just for the COLP and COFA

Your SRA compliance duties: the facts and the fibs The roles of compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and the compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA) in championing compliance are now well established in most firms. However, anyone in the firm who thinks that the COLP, COFA or compliance partner has drawn the short straw probably needs to think again. The reality is that there will not be a very big difference in practice between the duties of a compliance officer and many other members of staff. We’ve tried to create...

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