Issue 71 - March 2019
We will keep you updated on the outcome and give you all sufficient time to prepare for the changes and the opportunities it brings. Beyond our new Standards and Regulations, money laundering continues to be a big risk for the profession, while the potential inappropriate use of NDAs to cover up misconduct continues to create headlines.
These topics are featured in this issue, as is information on third-party-managed accounts and our new Enforcement Strategy.
Money laundering is one of our priority risks. It is not a victimless crime - it can facilitate terrorism, people trafficking and drug smuggling. As highlighted in the Government’s recent Flag It Up campaign, we all have to play our part to tackle it: from good quality suspicious activity reports (SARs) to having appropriate risk assessments in place, proper client due diligence to keeping training records up-to-date.
Last year we warned the profession about the inappropriate use of NDAs to prevent the reporting of professional misconduct or potential crimes to the relevant authorities. This includes sexual harassment or misconduct towards other employees or clients.
More firms are using third-party-managed accounts (TPMAs) to handle client money. This could be to make or to reduce costs, or both. There is nothing in our current or new rules that prevent firms using TPMAs, so if you felt they were right for you, then you could take advantage of them sooner than you think.
We have published the Enforcement Strategy which explains when and how we would take action 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 concerns about potential misconduct should be reported, including the obligations placed on individuals as well as firms.
This month we have started trialing new opening hours for the Professional Ethics helpline. Solicitors will have access to advice between 11.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 16.00. 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.
We have published a competence support package for those of you working in youth courts. Following on from this, we have now created an easy to read leaflet that tells young people how solicitors can help them. You can find this leaflet on our website and request copies to support you when talking to younger clients.
Cybercrime is the fastest-growing crime in the country, accounting for more than 75 percent of all reports to the police. Law firms, handling large amounts of client money, are prime targets for such criminals. Are you doing all that you can to minimise the risk of your firm being caught out?
Do you want to know about the high-risk scams that could affect your business? Our new round-up brings together the latest risks and advice on how to help keep your firm safe.
Are you worried about your health affecting your work? Life as a solicitor can be challenging and the demands and pressures can easily build up. We can signpost you to sources of help and make adjustments for you if you are in difficulty.
We will 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.
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