News releases

COLPs and COFAs nomination process nears completion

A total of just under 97% of firms now have COLPs and COFAs in place, the SRA announced today.

Work is now moving into the enforcement phase for the small number of firms who have still not nominated or who have failed to engage with the SRA, despite repeated reminders to do so.

SRA Executive Director, Samantha Barrass, said: "The importance of having the right people in place in these key compliance roles cannot be overestimated and we are pleased at the high levels of co-operation we have received from the great majority of firms. The process was not as straightforward as we had hoped, and to have officers in place at such a high proportion of firms is welcome news.

"Our strategy to achieve compliance by engaging with firms to actively seek alternative nominations, encourage completion of nominations and investigate issues that have been identified, did pay dividends. However, we must now switch our focus to proportionate enforcement action against those firms that have refused to nominate or other wise failed to engage appropriately with the process.

"Action will be taken against both firms and individuals, and will range from letters of advice, fines, rebukes, through to revocation of authorisation, and referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, where appropriate."

"We are not going to shirk our responsibilities when it comes to enforcement. To do so would be unfair on the majority who have co-operated fully with us."

There are a significant number of firms which are subject to enforcement activity. Those that will face enforcement fall largely into three categories:

  • Those firms who have not nominated at all or refused to co-operate with the SRA as required
  • Firms who nominated individuals with significant issues relevant to the SRA Suitability Test
  • Firms who nominated individuals with significant issues relevant to the SRA Suitability Test and which were not declared despite the fact that declaration was required under the SRA Suitability Test and Rules.

A number of firms have had to re-nominate their compliance officers. Around 170 practices have had to do this because the original nominee was not suitable and was likely to be refused. Reasons for this included the original nominee leaving or going on long-term leave; the original nominee withdrawing their consent to fulfil the role, or reorganisation within a firm's management structure.  

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