Issue 28 - September 2018

Welcome to Compliance News, the newsletter for Compliance Officers at solicitor firms in England and Wales. In this issue, information about this year’s conference, renewing your practising certificate, warning notices on holiday sickness, the client account and PPI claims, and a consultation on reporting potential misconduct.

This year’s Compliance Office conference takes place on Tuesday 11 December at the International Conference Centre, Birmingham. We had a thousand attendees last year and a waiting list too, so in response we have booked a bigger venue to try and accommodate as many of you as possible. As we move to implementing our reforms, you will need to book early to secure your place and make sure you know how your firm will be affected and what you need to do.

Read more about: Conference 2018 – secure your place!

Practising certificate and registration renewals for 2018/19 will take place throughout October. We have help available online if you need it.

Read more about: Practising certificates

We have recently received reports of at least two firms being infiltrated by bogus solicitors, with around £7m of client money stolen. Firms need to make sure they are being thorough with the due diligence they carry out on new members of staff or those proposing joint business arrangements.

Read more about: Due diligence

HM Treasury has published its Frozen Assets review list. Anyone holding frozen assets has until Friday 12 October 2018 to submit a report to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI). You should check the review to make sure you are not holding monies belonging to a client subject to financial sanctions.

Read more about: Frozen assets review

We are making some improvements to our Ethics Guidance helpline service during September and October. To allow staff training and technical development, the helpline hours be 10.00-16.00 Monday to Friday, 13 September to 15 October.

Read more about: Ethics Guidance helpline

We have updated our warning notice on holiday sickness work. After a spike, the number of claims is now falling, but solicitors still need to make sure that the work they do is compliant with the Code of Conduct, especially given the number of fraudulent claims that have been submitted.

Read more about: Holiday sickness warning notice

There is now less than a year to go for those who felt they were mis-sold payment protection insurance to apply for compensation. While most claims are relatively straight forward, some require assistance from a legal professional. The Government has capped the level of fees that can be charged in such cases.

Read more about: PPI cap

We have updated our warning notice on Rule 14.5, which prevents solicitors using the client account as a bank account. The refreshed warning notice includes additional scenarios to explain how we think you can remain compliant when handling client money.

Read more about: Client account warning notice

Our sixth Risk Outlook has been published. The Outlook helps solicitors to respond to the risks we see in the sector, supporting firms and protecting the public. Many of the risks we are highlighting are not new, but none of us can afford to be complacent.

Read more about: Risk Outlook

It is a regulatory requirement to signpost customers to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) at the time of engagement and again at the end of the complaints process. LeO has refreshed its signposting guidance to support service providers in meeting these requirements. This guidance includes why signposting is important, when to do it and suggested text to use.

Read more about: Complaints guidance

We have proposed clarifications to our rules regarding firms reporting potential misconduct. The changes are designed to make sure that firms are clear about their role and responsibilities in reporting misconduct. We would welcome views on this issue, and our consultation on this is open until 27 September.

Read more about: Reporting concerns

We will once again be at the LegalEx conference at ExCel in London on March 27 and 28. The event is aimed at business growth, professional development and cyber security in the legal sector. We are holding a series of seminars looking at these issues as well as innovation and changes to our regulation. We also have a stand in exhibition hall.

Read more about: Events – LegalEx

Join us in Leeds on 17 October to mark Black History Month and explore the best ways to tackle the lack of black, Asian and minority ethnic lawyers’ representation at senior levels in the legal sector. Share your own experience and gain valuable insight and ideas about what changes you can make in your firm.

Read more about: Events - Race to the top