Issue 21 – February 2017

Welcome to Compliance News, the e-newsletter for COLPs and COFAs. This issue includes information on capturing your data on the financial activities you carry out, the increasing threat of cybercrime, and the Home Office's anti money laundering campaign.

Do you carry out financial activities for clients as part of your legal work? If you do, you will either need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, or satisfy yourselves that you can rely on an exemption through our regulation. Not all firms are reporting on their work at firm renewal time, so we will be in touch soon to make sure your data is accurate.

Read more about: Financial activities

There have been numerous reports in the media of solicitors falling foul of the law, and either being charged or convicted of crimes. There are clear rules covering what we expect a solicitor to do in such instances.

Read more about: Solicitors and criminal charges

Cybercrime remains one of the top risks to law firms and their clients. Our recent cybercrime report highlights the most common cybercrime in legal services, and what you can do to protect yourself. We also set out what we want you to tell us if you experience any form of cyberattack, so that we can warn others.

Read more about: Cybercrime

The Home Office is rerunning its Flag it Up campaign to highlight the dangers of criminals attempting to launder money through professional firms in the UK. Serious and organised crime costs the UK economy £24 billion each year, and criminals target legal professionals to help them, often unknowingly, hide the proceeds of these crimes.

Read more about: Anti money laundering campaign

We have carried out an in-depth review of law firms working for asylum seekers, which shows that although most firms are serving asylum seekers well, there remains room for improvement. The report, which the Legal Aid Agency has urged firms working in this area to read, includes examples of good and poor practice.

Read more about: Asylum report

Looking after people's personal data is a responsibility for all of us. The Information Commissioner’s Office regulates the Data Protection Act, and their website is a good place to start to make sure you remain compliant. Their self-assessment toolkit, gives practical, tailored advice. The ICO also offers free one-day advisory visits, which give more detailed advice.

Read more about: Data protection

We have now moved to the new approach to continuing competence. This replaces the old CPD 'hours' regime. From webinars to an online toolkit, we are here to help you ensure you track your training assessment through the year.

Read more about: Continuing competence

The Legal Services Board is undertaking a survey of all ABSs. This survey seeks to understand more about how ABSs operate, how they use external investment, and their views on regulation.

Read more about: Not too late for ABS survey

Two dates for your diary. Our fifth Compliance Officer Conference will take place on 31 October. Like last year, it will be at the National Motorcycle Museum. Our second Innovate Conference, targeted at those interested in exploring new ways of delivering legal services, will take place on 26 April in London. We will share full details in due course.

Read more about: Save the dates

We are consulting on proposed changes to applications for waivers so that more firms can explore innovative ways of delivering legal services. We want to remove barriers for firms to looking to develop new models without diluting the protections in place for the public and businesses. The consultation ends on 8 March.

Read more about: Consultation

Those of you who are Compliance Officers in Wales can let us know what concerns you at a reception on 7 March that will mark our first ever Board meeting in Cardiff. We will be seeking the opinions of those in the profession in Wales about regulation so we can understand better the challenges faced, so if you want to share your thoughts, come along.

Read more about: Regulation and Wales