Issue 30 - February 2019

Welcome to the latest issue of Compliance News, the newsletter for COLPs and COFAs. We have details on our new Enforcement Strategy and the outcome of our consultation on reporting concerns, areas that are important for all of you. We have also decided on a date for the next Compliance Officer conference, which takes place in October 2019. And finally, we want to make sure Compliance News meets your needs, so we’ve created a short survey to capture your views. We can only improve this service if we understand your priorities and views - we would appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to respond to the questions.

We started Compliance News five years ago to support you in the newly-formed compliance officer community. We send you regular updates on information that is relevant to how you carry out your role. We want to make sure Compliance News remains meaningful and useful, so we’ve created a short survey to capture your views. Please do  take a couple of minutes to respond to the questions.

Read more about: Compliance News – have your say!

We have published the Enforcement Strategy which explains when and how we would take action against a law firm or solicitor for breaches of the standards we set, ahead of the introduction of the new Standards and Regulations. We have also published proposed changes to the wording of our rules regarding when firms and solicitors should report concerns about of potential misconduct.

Read more about: Our new Enforcement Strategy, and when you should report

We have published a number of internal reference documents, known as ‘topic guides’, which summarise the main mitigating and aggravating factors we take into account when considering cases in a number of common areas. These documents cover areas that we are often asked about, such as solicitors being convicted of criminal offences, drink driving, misusing social media, or failing to comply with our transparency rules.

Read more about: Enforcement in Practice – topic guides on key issues

Later this month we will begin a programme of web sweeps, initially checking whether a randomly selected sample of 500 law firm websites are complying with our transparency rules. If we find you are not meeting your obligations to publish information on price, services and your complaints procedure, we will ask you to resolve this urgently. For more information on the requirements, including templates and guidance, visit our transparency webpage. And for guidance on how we enforce, see our new topic guide.

Read more about: Price and services transparency - are you up to date?

Save the date for the 2019 Compliance Officer Conference. After positive feedback from the 1300 people attending the 2018 conference, we are looking forward to welcoming you back to the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on Wednesday 30 October 2019. We are aiming to launch bookings in July. Those of you that could not make it to last year’s event can find out what happened on our conference resources page.

Read more about: Save the date as we head back to the ICC for one of the largest events in the legal calendar

Scam artists are targeting solicitor firms to help them access stolen credit cards. Firms are approached to carry out what appears on the face of it to be legitimate debt recovery work, but they will not get paid for their services and will have helped facilitate a crime.

Read more about: Debt recovery work scam warning

Money laundering affects people, communities and everyone’s security. We all have to play our part to tackle it. Last year, we collected information about your firm relating to roles connected to the new money-laundering regulations. You told us about people holding certain positions in your firm, and these are reflected on their mySRA profiles. These changes should not be deleted unless their role has changed.

Read more about: Making sure you are tackling money laundering - complying with the money-laundering regulations

Later this month, we are trialling new opening hours for the Professional Ethics helpline. Solicitors will have access to advice between 11-13.00 and 14.00-16.00 from Monday 18 February. Our aim is to make sure we are using our resources effectively, while still providing appropriate support to the profession. Our Ethics Helpline provides guidance and support to around 35,000 solicitors a year. Solicitors can get help with any ethics-related issue affecting their practice through calling 0370 606 2577 or using our webchat service.

Read more about: Change to Ethics Helpline opening hours

We will 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 will also have a stand in the exhibition hall.

Read more about: Events – LegalEx