In this post we look at the Code of Conduct requirements to have a written payment of interest policy in place, and how firms should decide what is ‘fair’.
With no official guidance on a reasonable de minimis figure, firms are left to decide for themselves what is the threshold for interest to reach before paying out.
This was the topic of our November webinar (see below for recording and slides).
The new Register of Overseas Entities presents solicitors with the opportunity to develop a practice as verification agents for new and existing clients. On paper, the work itself may not (necessarily) be difficult, particularly for those steeped in the Money Laundering Regulations compliance. Although there will be cases where verifying the beneficial ownership of overseas entities will be a formidable task. Complex structures in opaque jurisdictions will pose particular challenges.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many law firms are reluctant to take on the work, put off by the perceived risk and short deadlines. These risks are highlighted in The Law Society’s guidance for solicitors and include potential criminal liability.
However, for those who are prepared to accept and carefully manage these risks, there are attractive possibilities to win new work and add value to existing clients.
We were delighted to contribute the concluding chapter to this new title from Globe Law and Business. We were asked to write about ‘Innovation and the opportunities in flexible regulation’.
The book is a worthwhile addition to any law firm library. It covers hot compliance topics including law firm culture, supervision, complaints, conflicts of interests, insurance, AML, cyber security, and many others.
Click here to see the full contents page.
The publishers have kindly offered a 15% discount for our clients and subscribers – please contact us for details.
News and Guidance
- Guidance: Effective supervision – SRA issues new in-depth guidance to supervision. A cynic might say that they are once again introducing quasi-rules through guidance notes, without the need for consultation and LSB approval.
- Research: Immigration and asylum thematic review – Serious concerns raised over various aspects of immigration practice. The regulator’s thematic review of 40 firms resulted in 10 disciplinary referrals.
- Guidance: Immigration work – SRA guidance relating to the issues identified in the thematic review.
Law Society – New and updated practice notes (may require login)
- MPs back tougher economic crime fines and oversight for lawyers – SRA likely to receive the green light for unlimited fining powers for disciplinary matters involving economic crime.
Webinar: Register of overseas entities – risks and opportunities for solicitors acting as verification agents
This week’s webinar focused on the issues for law firms who decide to act as verification agents under the new Register of Overseas Entities. In the session, we tried to strike a balance between the commercial opportunities around this new practice area and the very serious risks – as highlighted by The Law Society guidance.
Recording: click here (passcode %5.d1gg3) – available for 30 days
Slides: click here
Next month we plan to run a live session rounding up the compliance year. Details to follow.
SRA and SDT disciplinary decisions
- Christine Sutton – solicitor fined £2,000 for using the client account as a banking facility in facilitating payments between the buyers and sellers of company shares, without acting in the underlying legal transaction.
- Gordon Kemp – fined £15,000 for failing to act in the best interest of three clients subject to Court of Protection deputyship orders. In failing to protect and properly manage his clients’ money and assets, he breached fundamental principles of legal practice.
- Rachel Pickles – non-practising solicitor fined £10,000 following conviction for driving whilst under the influence of Class A drugs.
- Gorvins LLP – £1,000 fine for firm failing to have a compliant firm-wide risk assessment in place.
- Sherman Dzviti – trainee solicitor ‘struck off’ following conviction for providing unlicensed immigration advice.
- Boris Bronfentrinker – solicitor rebuked following dangerous driving conviction.
- AFG Law Limited – firm fined £2,000 after acting for both sides of a property development agreement, which then became disputed. The firm took unfair advantage of one of the parties, and failed to protect its confidential information.
- Caroline Louise Clayton-Ridley – non-lawyer ‘struck off’ for dishonestly backdating a declaration of trust and mortgage deed.
- Suzanne Smith – bookkeeper ‘struck off’ for dishonestly billing professional disbursements as profit costs.