Issue 84 - September 2020
Welcome to the latest issue of SRA Update. The biggest thing on our agenda right now is renewing your authorisation, with the practising certificate renewal window opening on 1 October for organisations and individuals. You can find out all you need to know here. We have also recently published reviews of solicitor involvement in investment schemes that turn out to be dubious, and cybercrime attacks, which remains just as relevant as a large number of us continue to work from home.
The renewals window will open on Thursday, 1 October and runs until Saturday, 31 October. If you are in charge of your organisation’s bulk renewal, or just taking care of your own PC, then make sure you have all you the information you will need to know at hand before you start by reading our guidance and advice.
September 30 is when the majority of firms renew their professional indemnity insurance. The market had already been hardening before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. You should already be in the process of securing new cover, but if you do not have the insurance you need as yet, read more here about potentially entering the Extended Policy Period.
With the UK having left the EU, the registered European lawyer (REL) regime will come to an end on 31 December 2020. Unless they opt out, all RELs who renew their registration this October will automatically become registered foreign lawyers (RFLs) on 1 January 2021. Find out more about what this means for them and those who employ them.
With lockdown restrictions continuing to mean many people are working remotely and dealing with clients online, we have published a new report highlighting the main risks and potential best practice that you need to be aware of to protect your firm and clients from cybercriminals.
The threat of solicitors involving themselves in investment schemes that turn out to be dubious continues, and public losses remain high. Read our new thematic review to find out about common issues we encounter among firms who, often unwittingly, have become involved with such activities over recent years.
Are you a solicitor who has been pregnant or taken maternity leave during the past ten years? Take our short, anonymous survey to help us find out more about your experiences of pregnancy and maternity leave at work.
You can learn more about retaining a diverse workforce by watching our debate on our YouTube channel on 7 October. Chaired by Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, it will also involve Chris White, Founder and CEO of Aspiring Solicitors, and Raphael Mokades, Director of Rare Recruitment, and the discussion aims to look at why black, Asian and ethnic minority lawyers leave their firms on average more quickly than white lawyers do, and explore the implications for firms and what they can do to promote inclusivity.
As many of you know, we provide a programme of information for firms at the annual LegalEx conference, a two-day celebration of the cutting edge of legal services. This year’s event was one of the first victims of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. However, it will be held on 2 December, subject to Government guidance. We will be supporting the event with talks on anti-money laundering, our Solicitors Qualifying Examination and the Accounts Rules, among others. Secure your place and keep tabs on confirmation here.
You can find all about the latest SQE news in the latest issue of our monthly newsletter, SQE Update. This month’s bulletin covers your questions on the SQE, the Legal Services Board decision due in autumn and the resources we have available to help education providers, employers and aspiring solicitors prepare for the SQE.
Welcome to the Compliance News section of SRA Update Issue 84. We have announced the date of this year’s Compliance Officer Conference, which will be Thursday 26 November. This issue also includes information on our updated guidance section, HM Treasury’s latest frozen assets list and the Government’s Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday.
We have published new guidance on the Accounts Rules, specifically around receiving money in advance from clients to cover costs/fees. You can find this on our revamped guidance page, which now makes it even easier for to search for the advice you need.
You need to check your clients against the latest Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) list for frozen assets. Anyone with a client that appears on the list has until 16 October to make a report to OFSI. This is a key part of the effort to combat money laundering.
The Government introduced a Stamp Duty Land Tax “holiday” in the summer in a bid to kickstart the housing market. However, we have concerns that some firms have not properly understood the holiday and have failed to account to their clients.
Even before the lockdown, people were increasingly shopping online. Our transparency rules, which became fully compulsory in November, compel all those firms a with a website to publish certain information about some of the services you provide. You need to remain compliant not just to adhere to the rules, but also to attract potential clients.
The legal services market is a fast-moving sector and the structure of law firms are often changing on a regular basis. This could include adding non-lawyer individuals to the ownership structure, which is likely to require a change in regulated status, and approval as an alternative business structure (ABS). Our guidance on authorisation has more information, including what this change means for a firm’s status.
This autumn’s Compliance Officer Conference will take place on Thursday 26 November. We are, as you can imagine, still working on the finer points of how to deliver this hugely popular event and will of course update you with our plans when they are finalised. These will also appear on our events page.
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