The new sanctions on Russia announced by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on 4th May do not cover the legal sector’s exportation of services to Russia.
The new sanctions aim to “cut off Russia’s access to the UK’s management consulting, accounting and PR services”. Truss said:
“Doing business with Putin’s regime is morally bankrupt and helps fund a war machine that is causing untold suffering across Ukraine
Cutting Russia’s access to British services will put more pressure on the Kremlin and ultimately help ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented:
“Our professional services exports are extraordinarily valuable to many countries, which is exactly why we’re locking Russia out. By restricting Russia’s access to our world-class management consultants, accountants and PR firms, we’re ratcheting up economic pressure on the Kremlin to change course.”
Yet, despite the aim to cut Russia’s access to British services, the legal sector is exempt from the latest sanctions. According to the Law Society Gazette, lawyers can act for sanctioned Russian clients given that they have a license from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OSFI) to receive reasonable fees for legal advice.
This comes as law firms were partly blamed for the UK’s slow implementation of sanctions on Russians. Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said in March:
“While it is right the horrors in Ukraine prompt fundamental questions about relations between the UK and Russia, it is dangerous to seek scapegoats and single out British lawyers. The reason UK law firms engaged with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union was because that was the direction of successive British governments as well as of business.”
The SRA has provided guidance to solicitors on how to ensure compliance with sanctions on Russians.