News release

Nearly 90 percent of COLPs and COFAs approved

Individuals at more than 8,800 firms have been approved to take up their roles as Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) and Compliance Officers for Finance and Administration (COFAs) from 1 January.

This represents around 89 percent of the nearly 10,000 firms who are required to appoint individuals to these roles.

Around 1,000 firms do not yet have compliance officers approved but this is significantly lower than the SRA anticipated a few weeks ago. This figure includes 194 firms who have failed to complete the nomination process.

COLPs and COFAs will play a focal role in ensuring that both firms and ABSs in England and Wales have appropriate systems and controls in place to enable them to manage risks to their delivery of competent and ethical legal services.

SRA Director of Risk Andrew Garbutt said: ”I'm pleased to report that the vast majority of firms received their approvals in time for individuals to start work as COLPs and COFAs from 1 January. We had a large team of staff dedicated to making sure that nominations were processed as rapidly as possible.

"There are some firms which came very late to the process, or who delayed providing us with further information when required to do so, consequently these have not yet received notification of our decision concerning the nomination. In cases where we now have all the information we need, I anticipate we will be able to make a decision shortly. We are making every effort to ensure firms and individuals know the status of their nominations.

"The SRA's continued focus in the early part of January will be to continue to work with firms to complete the approvals process, wherever this is possible. However, despite repeated requests, there remains a number of firms who have not co-operated with us. In these cases, we will begin the appropriate level of enforcement action, including revocation of their authorisation.”

Although it is a requirement for all firms to have approved compliance officers in place from 1 January 2013, firms and individuals who do not receive their approvals by this date will NOT be subject to an automatic loss of authorisation. The revocation of authorisation on the grounds of non-compliance with Rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 (i.e. failure to have compliance officers in place) requires a positive process, initiated by the SRA, under Rule 22.

More information about COLPs and COFAs.

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