December’s webinar (see below for recording) was a roundup of the top 10 SRA compliance topics of 2022, with some 2023 predictions thrown in for good measure.
Our previous predictions were pretty accurate. We said that AML, law firm cultures, transparency, diversity and the economy would be on the regulatory agenda in 2022. That turned out to be correct, although perhaps we don’t get any Mystic Meg prizes for the AML prediction. It looks set to remain on our end of year lists for the foreseeable future.
ICYMI: The SRA’s New ‘Effective Supervision’ Guidance Is Prescriptive But A Must Read For All Law Firms
New guidance from the Solicitors Regulation Authority sets out the expectations placed on law firms when it comes to ‘effective’ supervision.
Although the guidance does not officially carry the force of rules or warnings, solicitors and law firm leaders must have regard to guidance when interpreting the Code of Conduct requirements.
And the regulator “will have regard to it when exercising our regulatory functions”. So pretty much a rule by the back door.
Overcoming the challenges associated with economic instability looks set to trouble individuals and businesses alike in 2023. Increased wage demands look certain to add to the rising cost of doing business, both fuelled by rising inflation.
The impact of this situation means the Bank of England at their latest raised interest rates on Thursday 15th December 2022 to 3.5%, a rise of 0.5% percentage points.
Rising interest rates will be an unwelcome thought for many mortgage holders.
However, for legal practices that hold client monies, rising interest rates should be welcome news.
Your finance function could possibly generate more income in 1 hour than the average fee earner could in 1 year.
News and Guidance
- Updated guidance: Solicitors undertaking regulated claims management and immigration activities
- Compliance update: Transparency rules – Website transparency checks to increase over the coming weeks. The SRA is getting impatient with firms that fail to follow the letter of the rules.
- Warning notice: Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) – Must read. SRA gets serious about the abuse of the legal system in the name of reputation management. Now, whilst this is not a service line for the vast majority of law firms, it does have practical implications for all litigators. The warning notice could be read to apply to any form of aggressive litigation conduct (see, for instance, the sections on ‘conduct of the case’ and ‘labelling correspondence’).
- Guidance: Complying with the UK sanctions regime – Must read. SRA provides in-depth guidance note on sanctions compliance. The ‘risk factors’ and ‘red flags’ sections are particularly useful for communicating to your team.
Law Society – New and updated practice notes (may require login)
- Practice note: Powers of attorney for managing finances
- News: Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism: supervision report 2020–22
- Legal Futures: Scotland shies away from single legal regulator but backs ABSs – although the legislation has been on the Scottish statute books for over a decade, it has never been brought into force. This looks set to change, meaning that ABSs will be permitted in Scotland. This should make it easier for English firms to have a presence North of the border.
Recording: It’s the final countdown (of 2022)…our round-up of hot topics past, present and future
The recording of December’s live webinar can now be found here (passcode: wEi$9brb). We covered the top 10 compliance topics of 2022 and looked forward to what to expect this year. The video recording will be available for 30 days.
Next webinar: GDPR turns 5!
When: January 25th 2023 at 12:00pm
Platform: Zoom (registration link to follow)
Webinar invitations will shortly arrive in your inbox for our January session on Data Protection. Led by our in-house data protection practitioner, Rachael Eyre, the session will cover:
- GDPR basics
- How data protection ties in with duties of confidentiality
- The future for the UK GDPR
- Data Processes / Data Maps – the foundation of your Data Protection Regime
SRA and SDT disciplinary decisions
- Hallam Solicitors – sole practice fined £2,000 for AML failures including not having a compliant firm wide risk assessment, despite making compliance declarations to the SRA
- Fussell Wright Solicitors – also firm fined £2,000 for similar AML failures
- Tom Kwing Ming Li – solicitor who misled his clients about the status of their immigration cases struck off
- Mazhar Ali Badar – registered foreign lawyer suspended for 18 months, after raising the alarm that a bogus solicitor within the firm completed multiple suspicious conveyancing transactions in secret
- Slater and Gordon UK Limited – firm fined almost £82,000 for old conduct breaches under the previous owners’ watch
- Ntanda Siswana – solicitor rebuked for drink driving offence