Issue 72 - May 2019
Welcome to Issue 72 of SRA Update. We have announced the date of the launch of our Standards and Regulations – November 25 – so everyone has plenty of time to prepare. We will be publishing guidance and supporting material over the months to come. Also coming down the line is our two-yearly collection of your diversity data. We have already notified your firms about small changes to the questions we are asking to make the collection as straightforward as possible for everyone.
Finally, we are continuing to focus on tackling money laundering, with our new report looking at the area of trust and company services work showing that many firms have more to do. Our new Warning Notice reminds you all of the obligation for every firm to have a full AML risk assessment as required by the legislation.
Money laundering is not a victimless crime - it can facilitate terrorism, people trafficking and drug smuggling. We recently reviewed 59 firms involved in trust and company services. While we found that most firms were adequately meeting their obligations, a significant minority were not doing what they should. We have referred 26 of those into our disciplinary processes.
The four-week collection period during which you need to provide us with your firm’s diversity data will open on Tuesday 4 June. If you have not taken part in this exercise before, please see our website to find out more about this collection. We have made some changes to the questionnaire this year, which you might wish to familiarise yourself with.
Our new Standards and Regulations will come into effect on 25 November. This will give everyone time to prepare for the shorter, clearer set of rules and the new ways of working, and will ensure we can provide a full range of support and guidance. Our digital badge will also become mandatory on that date.
We have published the findings of our review into conveyancing practice, having visited 40 firms offering such services and conducting detailed analysis of 80 property deals. The review has raised concerns over how open they are about costs and whether they are doing enough to make sure buyers understand any potential contractual obligations.
Con artists continue to try and trick unsuspecting law firms into downloading dangerous programmes on to their IT systems. We have warned on this before, with scammers contacting firms through “Find a Solicitor”. A similar trick has now been brought to our attention.
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 currently have 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.
Our Professional Ethics team regularly post answers to frequently-asked or pertinent questions to our website, which could save you a phone call. The latest questions concern money laundering risk assessments and conducting proper client due diligence.
The latest in our highly-successful “Innovate” conferences sees us move to Leeds on Wednesday 5 June. Those joining us at The Studio can hear about new solutions in legal services, reaching different potential client bases, and how legal tech and artificial intelligence might impact on their work.
We want to find out more about how your firm is supporting a disability inclusive environment. To help this, we have arranged two workshops to discuss best practice. The second of these is at our headquarters at The Cube in Birmingham on Wednesday 8 May between 2pm and 4pm.
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