Nominating your COLP and COFA: What you need to do
SRA Update Issue 24 – May 2012
One of the critical requirements of our move away from the previous focus on prescribed rules to outcomes-focused regulation is for the regulated community to nominate
- compliance officers for legal practice (COLPs), and
- compliance officers for finance and administration (COFAs).
COLPs and COFAs are responsible for ensuring that you and your firm have systems and controls in place to enable you to comply with our regulatory requirements. This requirement is consistent with our risk-based approach to regulation.
Nomination dates for applications announced
You will now be able to nominate your COLPs and COFAS from 31 May until 31 July 2012.
We will send your firm's authorised signatory an email at the end of May containing a link to a web-based nomination form. We will be contacting firms during May where we don't currently have the details of their authorised signatory or email address.
We expect to give approval to nominations by 31 October 2012—this is when COLPs and COFAs must start fulfilling their duties.
Check on our authorisation procedures
You can find the regulatory provisions in the Authorisation Rules and SRA Practising Regulations at www.sra.org.uk/handbook. In particular, section 8.5 of the Authorisation Rules and regulation 4.8 of the SRA Practising Regulations give all the details that you will need.
Choosing the right applicants
You may also be interested in the following guidance at www.sra.org.uk/complianceofficers including a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Page for help when identifying your COLP and COFA. A speech at a recent conference by SRA Executive Director Samantha Barrass may also be of interest.
The form that you will be asked to complete will be short, but will contain binding declarations by both a senior manager with the authority to sign on behalf of the firm and the COLP and COFA nominees. We will hold these signatories personally accountable. It is important to stress the existence of COLPs and COFAs does not absolve senior managers from their own responsibilities.
We will be checking nominations on a risk-based approach, but will go back to a subset of firms and will include some random sampling checks. COLPs and COFAs in new Authorised bodies and Recognised Sole Practitioner firms will continue to be subject to a full series of checks. We expect to confirm most COLPs and COFAs by the end of October, although we may need to include some late approvals. See our webpage www.sra.org.uk/complianceofficers for more information including Q and As.
We're sorry for the delay
We hope that this has not caused too much inconvenience and that the extended timescales mean that any changes to your business practice are kept to a minimum.
Any queries on the handbook Authorisation Rules or Practising Regulations should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call Professional Ethics helpline on 0870 606 2577. Any general queries should be emailed to email@example.com or call our Contact Centre on 0870 606 2555.