Essential sanctions information for law firms
Law firms must have the most up-to-date information about the UK sanctions regime.
Sanctions checks have historically been a blind spot for some law firms, perhaps in the (mistaken) view that sanctions compliance is just for large corporate firms.
This was always a risky approach to take. It would be foolish to turn a blind eye under current circumstances.
In this post, we highlight:
- SRA sanctions information
- Law Society guidance on sanctions
- OFSI guidance on UK sanctions
ICYMI: SRA declares war on toxic cultures with new guidance
Toxic cultures are closely related to poor ethical behaviours. When a person is subjected to bullying, harassment or unreasonable pressure they are more likely to get themselves into regulatory hot water.
Under enough pressure, the act of backdating a document, misleading a client, or hiding a mistake can seem like the only way out for an otherwise ethical lawyer.
Through its recent Thematic Review, involving responses from over 200 solicitors, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has recognised a serious problem in law firms.
Around 25% of those surveyed reported negative workplace cultures, including overwork, intolerable pressure to meet targets and bullying.
The result is a new formal Guidance Note (Workplace environment: risks of failing to protect and support colleagues), which sets out the SRA’s concerns and expectations of those it regulates.
This is a significant change of tack for a regulator often criticised for going after individual wrongdoers, including very junior lawyers, whilst ignoring toxic employers and unsupportive managers.
News and Guidance
Law Society Updates
- News – What you need to know about new sanctions on Russia
- Guide – UK sanctions regime
- Guide – Source of funds
- News – How lawyers can show support for people in Ukraine
- News release – Law firms reminded of importance of sanctions compliance
- Updated guidance – Closing down your practice
- Gazette – Pressure mounts for action against ‘enablers’ of Russian regime
- Gazette – City firms prepare to drop Russian clients after Ukraine invasion
- Legal Futures – PM issues warning to oligarch lawyers as profession hits back at criticism
How to conduct Client Due Diligence
At our last monthly session, the team talked through the main issues around CDD, including:
- the Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG) guidance
- what CDD should look like in practice
- how technology can help
- how the CDD fits into the firm wide risk assessment
Watch the recording – Access Passcode: Zy^7y9Pk – Available for a few more days
Our next webinar on sanctions compliance will be held on 16 March at 12:00pm – watch out for your invitation.
- Irina Schwab – 6 month suspension for posting false social media ‘successes’.
- Michael Garstang – struck off for encouraging a client to make a £100 ‘gift’ to cover travel costs which were covered by legal aid.
- Naheem Khaliq – rebuked following a drink driving conviction.
- David Savell – fined £1,100 following a drink driving conviction.
- Michael Randall – rebuked following drink driving conviction.
- Philip Morris – rebuked for ‘copy pasting’ an electronic signature onto a new version of a client witness statement served in proceedings. The solicitor held the mistaken belief that this was entirely appropriate.
- Graham Hale – unqualified conveyancer ‘struck off’ (Section 43 Order) after submitting false paperwork to the Land Registry with the intention of reducing the client’s SDLT.
- Thomas Elser – non-lawyer ‘struck off’ (Section 43 Order) following a sexual offence conviction in Germany.
- Raees Kalid Khan – paralegal ‘struck off’ (Section 43 Order) following conviction for conspiracy to handle stolen goods.
- John Peter Carey – fined £2,000 and leaves profession for his role in a high risk property investment scheme. The developer went out of business before the properties were completed, resulting in significant investor losses. Investors were not warned of the risks of paying half the purchase price prior to completion.