11 things you might have missed while sitting on a beach this summer [SRA compliance]

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So you’re back in the office and still dreaming of crystal clear oceans, sunsets and the warm summer breeze?

I feel your pain, so let’s not dwell on a long introduction. Here’s a quick roundup of compliance news you might have missed this summer:

1. There are a number of new and updated SRA guidelines to master, including:

2. The Law Society’s practice notes team has also been busy. Don’t miss:

3. Disciplinary actions barely took a breather. Besides the usual disbarments for dishonesty and falsification of documents, interesting decisions include:

  • Fine of £16,000 for incompetence and unreasonable delay
  • Reprimanded for sharing trial video link without court permission
  • Various fines for failing AML systems, which appear to have climbed to around £1,200-2,000 (plus unwanted publicity)
  • Fineed £2,000 for failing to keep proper attendance notes
  • £3,000 fine for being the victim of a fraudster
  • Reprimand for a COLP who failed to supervise a junior social worker
  • Fine of £2,000 for failing to comply with a decision of the legal ombudsman
  • Fine of £10,000 for breach of recognizance and failure to register charges
  • £2,000 fine for using customer account as banking institution
  • £2,000 fine for drunken advances to colleagues

4. There will be more checks of the SRA’s transparency rules on lawyers’ websites this year. Use our free checklist to make sure yours passes the scrutiny.

5. Our regulator took a step closer to becoming judge, jury and executioner when its powers of fines were increased from £2,000 to £25,000 (penalties for ABS were already much higher). A consultation on a system of fixed penalties is currently open.

6. The SRA pulled out of the abyss by closing the Solicitors Indemnity Fund, extending the scheme for another 12 months. An instant discussion paper has been released outlining options for the plan’s future.

7. The Legal Services Board wants the SRA to improve proficiency checks on lawyers throughout their careers. Expect consultation and a move away from self-declared competence.

8. The Legal Sector Affinity Group’s AML guidelines have (finally) been approved by the Treasury, meaning they now have legal standing and should be part of your AML checks.

9. The National Crime Agency and OFSI have sent a wake-up call to professional ‘facilitators’, issuing a red alert about compliance with sanctions.

10. Gibraltar has been added to the FATF list of countries subject to enhanced surveillance. Any client or business involving Gibraltar should be treated as a higher risk.

11. The Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) went live on August 1st. The register aims to increase transparency of the beneficial ownership of UK assets. Solicitors could face criminal penalties for failing to properly register properties owned by foreign companies with Companies House.

Let’s all agree to breathe in August 2023, okay?

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