Issue 76 - February 2020
Welcome to the latest issue of SRA Update. We have had a busy start to the year, not least because of the January implementation of the 5th Anti-money Laundering Directive and, of course, monitoring how the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union affects Registered European Lawyers and the firms you work in.
We are consulting on proposed changes to the Compensation Fund – you can find the details in this issue - and continue to help everyone get to grips with our new Standards and Regulations. Looking ahead, please do sign up for our new dedicated Solicitors Qualifying Examination bulletin so you can keep you up to date on all the development work ahead of its 2021 introduction.
The Compensation Fund provides an essential safety net for those who need it when things go wrong. However, funding the scheme comes at a cost, borne by the wider profession. We are consulting on updated proposals we think strike the right balance between protecting clients’ money and making sure the Fund remains sustainable.
Late last year, we introduced our new Standards and Regulations, bringing with it a clearer set of rules that are easier to follow and place greater trust in your judgement to do the right thing by clients. Firms seem to have found the overwhelming majority of the changes straightforward, however there are a few areas where you have asked for more help.
Keeping money launderers out of the profession remains a priority of ours. Solicitor firms are highly credible and remain an attractive target for criminals keen to launder their profits. The majority of the profession would be horrified to discover they had unwittingly helped such groups, and we continue to do everything we can to offer support.
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will be a single, national licensing examination that all prospective solicitors will take before qualifying introduced in autumn 2021. As the SQE gets closer to implementation, there’s a place you can go to hear the latest developments and how you can get involved.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will eventually have implications for those we regulate who qualified on the continent. There will be no distinction between Registered European Lawyers and Registered Foreign Lawyers. We continue to keep watch on potential changes and when they might occur. We have also published information on guidance on financial sanction targets.
Every year we publish our Risk Outlook, which outlines what we believe are the key threats to law firms so that you can all assess the dangers and mitigate against them. We want to know what you feel is the best way for us to give you this information. You can do this through an anonymous survey that should take less than two minutes to complete.
We will once again be a big presence at the annual LegalEx, taking place at Excel London on March 18 and 19. We will be hosting a number of sessions throughout the two days of the leading events for business growth, professional development and cyber security in the legal sector.
Sometimes, despite the profession’s best efforts, clients can disappear off a firm’s radar, leaving no way to be contacted. This can lead to problems when it comes to reuniting them with their documents and sometimes their money. Residual balances can be donated to charity if the client cannot be found. For sums of more than £500, you need to apply to us for permission. For balances less than £500, you do not need to apply.
Owners of closed firms should be aware that the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) will cease providing supplementary run off cover to firms on 30 September 2020. That means that former firm owners should consider whether they need to make arrangements to cover for claims made after that date. This also affects those of you looking to close in the near future.
We have a competence support package for those of you working in youth courts, which includes 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.
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