Back in the office, still dreaming of clear waters, sunsets and warm summer breezes?
I feel your pain, so let’s not pull this off with a long preamble. Here’s a quick roundup of compliance news you may have missed this summer.
1. There are many new and updated SRA guidances to be aware of.
2. The Law Society Practice Notes team is also busy. Do not miss it:
3. Disciplinary action is breathtaking. Besides the usual strike-offs for fraud and document tampering, some interesting decisions include:
- £16,000 fine for incompetence and unreasonable delay
- Accused of sharing trial video link without court permission
- Various fines for AML system failure. This seems to have stalked around £1,200-2,000 (plus unwanted advertising).
- £2,000 fine for failure to follow proper attendance notes
- £3,000 fine for falling victim to scammers
- Rebuke of COLP for failing to supervise junior caseworkers
- £2,000 fine for failure to comply with the decision of the Legal Ombudsman
- £10,000 fine for breach of contract and failure to register prosecution
- £2,000 fine for using a client account as a banking function
- £2,000 fine for drunk advances on colleagues
4. There will be more SRA Transparency Rule checks on lawyers’ websites this year. Use our free checklist to make sure you’ve passed our scrutiny.
5. Our regulators are one step closer to judges, juries and executioners when fine powers are increased from £2,000 to £25,000 (ABS penalties were already much higher). Consultations on a fixed penalty scheme are currently open.
6. SRA withdrew from the brink in closing the Solicitor Compensation Fund, extending the scheme for another 12 months. A snap discussion paper has been published setting out future options for the scheme.
7. The Legal Commission wants the SRA to improve its ability checks for lawyers throughout their careers. Expect to be consulted and move away from your self-proclaimed competence.
8. The Legal Sector Affinity Group’s AML Guidance was (finally) endorsed by the Ministry of Finance. This means it must have legal status and form part of the AML controls.
9. The National Crime Agency and OFSI have struck a blow at the professional ‘enablers’ and raised red flags in relation to sanctions compliance.
10. Gibraltar has been added to the FATF’s list of countries under enhanced surveillance. Any client or matter involving Gibraltar should be treated as a higher risk.
11. The Register of Foreign Entities (ROE) was published on 1 August. The Register aims to increase the transparency of beneficial ownership of UK property. Solicitors may face criminal penalties if they fail to properly register property owned by a foreign company with the Companies House.
Agree to take your last breath in August 2023.
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