Issue 27 - June 2018

Welcome to Compliance News, the newsletter for Compliance Officers at solicitor firms in England and Wales. In this issue, we outline the conclusion of our regulatory reforms, making the Handbook, simpler and shorter. These changes focus on what matters: high professional standards that offer real public protection rather than unnecessary bureaucracy that generates costs, constrains firms and hinders access to legal services. We are also introducing new rules around making information about the services you provide available to potential clients. This includes price for certain services. All the evidence shows that people do not necessarily want the cheapest provider, but they do find having information on price helps with their choices. You can also find the latest on our funding requirement for next year, which again remains unchanged from last year. We need to make sure the Compensation Fund, a key component of regulatory protections, has enough funds to cover potential future claims and that means increases in the contributions.

We have finalised our proposals for reforming the Handbook, making it easier-to-follow and placing more trust in your professional judgment to do the right thing by your client. This has been a four-year process involving extensive consultation.

Read more about: Looking to the future – Handbook

Our Better Information programme is aimed at giving potential clients the details they need to make the right choices about the legal services they receive. Too many members of the public and small businesses miss out on using a solicitor for their legal issue because they do not know what help is available and at what cost.

Read more about: Looking to the future – Better information

We are consulting with the Law Society on the level of fees to be charged from October. We propose that the amount we need to raise for our budget through PC fees will not rise in 2018/19. Compensation Fund contributions, however, will need to increase to cover potential claims.

Read more about: Compensation Fund and PC fees

Ahead of the consultation, we have published our indicative fees calculator to assist you with forward planning. Once the detail has been consulted on and agreed by the Law Society Council and the Legal Services Board, we will, as ever, make this information available in the final fees calculator so that you can plan your budgets more accurately.

Read more about: Fees calculator

We have updated our case study that gives an example of when a firm might be able to rely on the "advocacy or litigation" exclusion set out at Article 39K of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities Order) 2001. It has come to our knowledge that firms might have misinterpreted when the exclusion could have been relied on, so the case study clarifies this point.

Read more about: Consumer credit work

Caps on the fees that can be charged for work helping clients make claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance will be introduced next month. Earlier this year, we published a thematic review of how the small number of firms operating in this area are working.

Read more about: Payment protection insurance claims

If you come across activity that you suspect could be linked to money laundering, you must inform your firm’s money laundering reporting officer, who will consider whether or not to report it to the National Crime Agency (NCA). The agency has issued updated guidance on completing reports.

Read more about: Making suspicious activity reports

Some law firms that have successfully bid for civil Legal Aid contracts might have done so on a joint venture basis and will therefore need to be authorised. Such firms should get in touch with us as soon as possible to make sure they are approved in time.

Read more about: Civil Legal Aid contracts – firm applications

Innovation is important if the legal sector is to continue to grow and to help the public access legal services. Those who join us at one of our SRA Innovate events this year can hear the latest thinking about finding new ways of working. We have already held an event in Cambridge, with events still to come in Newcastle and Bristol.

Read more about: Events - Innovate

We are holding another of our “Protecting your business” events, this time in Wrexham in partnership with Chester and North Wales Law Society. Those attending can learn more about threats such as cybercrime, and new regulations introduced by the Government. We also discuss how we can support you.

Read more about: Protecting your business – Chester and North Wales