The SRA Handbook is no longer in effect. It was replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations on 25 November 2019.
Principals' responsibility for complianceBack to version 21
Version 12 of the Handbook was published on 31/10/2014. For more information, please click 'History' Above
Rule 6: Principals' responsibility for compliance
All the principals in a firm must ensure compliance with the rules by the principals themselves and by everyone employed in the firm. This duty also extends to the directors of a recognised body or licensed body which is a company, or to the members of a recognised body or licensed body which is an LLP. It also extends to the COFA of a firm (whether a manager or non-manager).
Rule 8.5(d) of the SRA Authorisation Rules requires all firms to have a COFA. The appointment of a COFA satisfies the requirement under section 92 of the Legal Services Act 2007 for a licensed body to appoint a Head of Finance and Administration. Under rule 6 of the accounts rules, the COFA must ensure compliance with the accounts rules. This obligation is in addition to, not instead of, the duty of all the principals to ensure compliance (the COFA may be subject to this duty both as COFA and as a principal). Under rule 8.5(e) of the SRA Authorisation Rules, the COFA of a licensed body must report any breaches, and the COFA of a recognised body must report material breaches, of the accounts rules to the SRA as soon as reasonably practicable. The COFA of a recognised sole practitioner has a duty to report material breaches under regulation 4.8(e) of the SRA Practising Regulations. All COFAs must record any breaches and make those records available to the SRA on request. (See also outcomes 10.3 and 10.4 of Chapter 10 of the SRA Code of Conduct in relation to the general duty to report serious financial difficulty or serious misconduct.)