An Update from Jon
A bit of a change from the usual format of this newsletter. We will use it primarily to point you towards emerging relevant guidance relating to the current pandemic. Usual service to be resumed when things get back to relative normality.
Just to remind you that we are operating as usual (remotely, of course). If there are any risk or compliance queries cropping up in your practice, please do reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org or 02920 660160).
We are currently fielding lots of questions from Compliance Officers about:
- financial stability
- working remotely and practical considerations (confidentiality, IT security)
- verifying identities remotely
- execution of documents
- key worker status
- visiting clients at home
Please let me know if there are any specific resources you would like us to share.
With warm wishes
Latest SRA Guidance
- Help with common queries – Including the Accounts Rules, Client confidentiality, Wills, Loss of key role holder, CDD and ID checks, Conveyancing, and Appearances in court. No doubt they will add to these as the Professional Ethics team starts to understand some of the issues cropping up on the ground. Keep this page bookmarked.
- The SRA’s approach to compliance – They say they will take a ‘pragmatic’ and ‘proportionate’ approach during the crisis. Clearly, we must all continue to adhere to the core professional Principles, but we suspect that they will be less concerned about minor and technical breaches of the rules. It would be wise to communicate this message to your team, particularly whilst everyone is working remotely.
Latest Law Society Guidance
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and updates – Including Advice on attending court; Advice for employers; Advice for firm owners, managing partners or senior leaders (inc. COLP and COFA); Advice for private client practitioners; Advice for members visiting police stations, prisons or courts; Advice for international firms; Advice for conveyancers; Advice for litigators; Advice for legal aid firms
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): our priority issues
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for our members’ wellbeing
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and residential conveyancing transactions
Scammers may try to exploit the pandemic, says NCA
The National Crime Agency has urged individuals and businesses to exercise extreme vigilance to guard against criminals using the COVID-19 crisis to commit fraud.In a recent post, the NCA says we should:
- Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud
Latest ICO Guidance
- Data protection and the coronavirus: what you need to know – A reassuring message for data controllers from the ICO, addressing enforcement (again, being pragmatic), home working, and collecting information about employees’ health.
Delay completions, says government
The UK government has effectively put the brakes on the residential conveyancing market, until after the peak of the pandemic.Moving house does not sit well with the instruction to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
- Where exchange has taken place, buyers and sellers (and their advisers) should ‘work together’ to agree to delay completion, or come up with a workaround.
- Lenders should extend mortgage offers to up to three months to help facilitate the delay.
- Conveyancers should continue to support the sales of unoccupied properties as far as possible.
- Conveyancers should make every effort to support clients who are due to complete on occupied properties in the stay-at-home period to change this date.
- Conveyancers should advise their clients who are ready to move not to exchange contracts on an occupied property unless they have made explicit provision for the risks presented by the virus.
- Conveyancers should prioritise supporting anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus and those they are in chain with, and we urge them to do all they can to help a new date to be agreed in these circumstances.”