News releases

COLPs and COFAs approvals reach 8,000 as deadline looms

More than 8,000 firms have now had their nominations for the key roles of COLPs and COFAs approved.

This represents about 84 per cent of the nearly 10,000 firms required to have individuals approved to take up these roles on 1 January. With less than two weeks to go before the New Year, the authorisation team at the SRA is working through the remaining nominations as quickly as possible.

It is still likely, however, that several hundred firms will not have individuals in place by the 31 December deadline for approving nominations. In some cases this will be because firms submitted their nominations after the deadline, or further investigation has been required.

There are also still around 250 firms which have failed to complete the process - or even start it. In addition, there are a sizeable number of firms who have nominated individuals who will not be approved due to disciplinary and other significant issues.

Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) and Compliance Officers for Finance and Administration (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.

Executive Director Samantha Barrass, who has overall responsibility for the approvals process, said: “We have a large team of staff working through the nominations as it is crucial that we have as many COLPs and COFAs in place on 1 January as possible. I’m pleased to report, therefore, that we are likely to have more individuals able to take up their roles on that date than we thought a few weeks ago.

“If any firm submitted their nominations accurately and on time, but either the firm or their nominees have not heard from us requesting further investigation in support of the nomination, they can expect to receive their approval by 31 December. There is no need to take further action.

“There are also some firms which came very late to the process for a variety of reasons, or have delayed in providing us with further information where requested. These firms know who they are and, so long as they and/or their nominees provide us with all the information we have told them we need, we anticipate being able to make a decision early in the New Year.

“It is disappointing, however, that while the vast majority of firms have met their regulatory requirements and completed the process, as required, there is still a number who have not.

“These firms have no foreseeable prospect of COLPs and COFAs in place, either on, or shortly after 1 January, and will be in breach of their licence conditions or practising regulations on that date. Where firms have not co-operated with us, we will take action to revoke their authorisation.”

More information about COLPs and COFAs

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