So you’re back in the office and still dreaming of clear oceans, sunsets and the warm summer breeze?
I feel your pain, so let’s not draw this out with a long introduction. Here is a brief roundup of the compliance news you may have missed this summer.
News and Guidance
- Transparency rules – more checks on website information – time to double check your website is compliant…the SRA will be looking. Our free checklist will help.
- Guidance – Sexual misconduct – regulator attempts to clarify its position on what constitutes sexual misconduct, setting out examples and aggravating factors. Following the failed Beckwith prosecution in 2020, this guidance was long overdue. Of particular note, the lines between a solicitor’s private and professional remain intentionally blurred. Relevant factors would include the seriousness of the misconduct and extent to which it is linked to the solicitor’s professional standing.
- Guidance – Convictions arising from matters of principle or social conscience – convictions arising from peaceful protest “on moral and ethical issues such as environmental or racial issues”, will not automatically result in SRA action.
- Guidance – Acting with integrity – useful update to guidance on the ephemeral concept of “lack of integrity” (you know it when you see it), with examples taken from relevant caselaw. Leading authorities of Wingate, Malins, and Beckwith all covered.
- Guidance – Professional duties during action taken by the Criminal Bar Association – this guidance stresses that solicitors should take all reasonable steps to assist clients and ensure hearings take place during the Bar strike, short of taking on advocacy work beyond their competence.
- Guidance – Undertakings given by, or on behalf of, incorporated practices – following the decision in Harcus Sinclair LLP and Another v Your Lawyers Ltd , the SRA reminds solicitors that even thought the court’s power to enforce undertakings against incorporated firms is limited, the regulator’s disciplinary powers are not. See also our analysis of the position.
- Guidance – Advising on leasehold provisions including ground rent clauses – updated guidance note for property lawyers advising on leaseholds and acting for developers.
- Consultation – Financial penalties: detail of new approach – following the recent increase to its fining powers, the SRA is consulting on the proposed fixed penalties regime. This consultation closes on 14 November 2022. Comments about judge, jury and executioner will probably be unwelcome…
Law Society – New and updated practice notes (may require login)
- Representation before mental health tribunals
- Social media
- Implementing whistleblowing arrangements
- Raising concerns and whistleblowing – guidance for staff
- Protecting your firm if you fall victim to a scam
- Lasting powers of attorney
- Bribery Act 2010
- Price and service transparency
- Closing down your practice: regulatory requirements
- Ronald Stephen Simms – rebuked and removed from the roll for at least 3 years for sexual harassment.
- Peter Arnstein – fined £16,000 for incompetence and unreasonable delay.
- Derek Hayward – struck off for dishonestly passing money to clients in custody on multiple occasions.
- Hewitts Solicitors (a firm) – fined £1,300 for systemic AML failures (no risk assessment, lacking policies and procedures).
- Mansoor Hussain – IT service desk employee banned from profession for sending offensive internal messages to law firm colleague.
- Joe Morgan – solicitor rebuked for claiming to be a notary and issuing apostilles via an online platform when neither qualified nor authorised.
- John Ioannou – fined £2,500 for inadvertent breach of Accounts Rules, using the client account as a banking facility.
- Michael Thompson – struck off for instructing a junior to falsify the date on a mortgage deed.
- Ziva Robertson – rebuked for sharing link to live streamed libel trial without the court’s permission.
- Hayley Llewellyn – legal assistant struck off (Section 43 order) for dishonestly submitting a doctored registration certificate to Companies House.
- Kate Fletcher – paralegal struck off (Section 43 order) for fabricating documentation and misleading clients.
- Victoria Kerr – rebuked for drink driving offence.
- Nicholas Humphrey – sole practitioner fined £1,200 for failing to have in place an AML risk assessment.
- Baron Grey Limited (a firm) – fined £1,200 for failing to have in place an AML risk assessment.
- Stephen Edmondson – sole practitioner fined £2,000 for failing to have a compliant AML risk assessment or policies in place, and making an “incorrect declaration” to the SRA.
- Mohit Chopra – fined £20,000 for holding onto unpaid stamp duty and several other Accounts Rules breaches.