News release

Risk Outlook and walking the line

We have published the autumn update of our Risk Outlook. The outlook, published every July, gives information to help protect law firms and clients.

Key trends identified in the Risk Outlook update include:


  • A 43 percent increase in the number of money laundering reports (across the first three quarters of the year compared to 2017).
  • A 10 percent increase in the number of reports of misuse of client money compared to 2017 (now averaging 104 per month).
  • A nine percent increase in the amount of work being carried out online.
  • Reports of email modification fraud, which in the past have tended to mostly concern conveyancing, are increasingly related to other areas of work, and now account for more than half of all these reports received.


We have also refreshed our Balancing Duties in Litigation paper. This revamps issues first looked at in March 2015, discussing the differing duties owed by solicitors in litigation and examining the ways in which misconduct can arise.

A key theme continues to be the conflict between the principle of acting in the best interests of each client and other, often higher-priority principles, such as acting with integrity or upholding the rule of law and proper administration of justice. This has been particularly relevant for those that draw up non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

While these have a legitimate role to play, it has become clear that some might include clauses that seek to prevent lawful disclosure of issues such as discrimination, harassment or even sexual abuse. We published a warning notice in March to reiterate the profession’s responsibilities in this area.

This will be the last time we publish updates to the Risk Outlook. The legal services environment is so fast moving that we will publish changes in trends as and when they happen, rather than at four-monthly intervals. We will do this through SRA Update, Compliance News (our newsletter for COLPs and COFAs) and social media channels.

The Risk Outlook Autumn Update can be found here:

Go to the update

Walking the Line, the balancing duties paper, can be found here:

Go to the paper

Catch up with our Risk blog here:

Go to the Risk blog