SearchFlow offer guidance on risk management compliance

SearchFlow offer guidance on risk management compliance

SearchFlow have joined forces with Legal Eye to help practices embed compliance within their firms.

The firm is running a series of seminars throughout the autumn to explain more about compliance and how they can help. To find out more click here.

They explain that the need for risk management processes is vital following the SRA handbook revision on the 6th October 2011.

The revision introduced tighter audit and control processes along with introducing COLPs and COFAs.

If the SRA do ask for information as part of an investigation firms have just four weeks to comply.

They must be able to show evidence of processes being demonstrably in place and followed by all.

More rigorous reporting requirements will be implemented by January 2013 and firms are urged to check they are ready.

SearchFlow said that they expected the vast majority of firms to have complied and registered nominated solicitors and finance directors, however 800 had not registered by the deadline.

David Kempster, of SearchFlowsaid: “Do these really believe that the regime will not flex its muscles and that by ignoring this, they will hope to remain hidden.

“It can only lead to questions being asked about their approach and practices with other matters.”

He said that there was nowhere for firms to hide and non-compliance penalties had already been delivered to some firms.

Mr Kempster said the number of interventions due to breaches of the code of conduct has accelerated from 32 to 55%.

He added: “So, where do you start? Well, aside from registering appropriate people, it’s essential that the firm embraces honesty about what is and what isn’t working with their team and processes right now.

“This isn’t a simple tick box exercise — this is a root and branch review of the cultural, strategic and structural elements to the law firm that is needed to ensure the right mindset is adopted.

“Have the partners and fee earners set the necessary rigorous standards — the checks and balances, the control gates? Do they know the bottlenecks? Can they provide detailed audit trails? Could they in all honesty, when questioned, know whether their client care letters are compliant, with the right wording rules?, that fees and disbursements are quoted in the correct manner and that more rigorous ID and AML checks have been made, even on well-known clients?

“For some, the shorthand may be —“it’s been fine for 40 years, therefore…” but that doesn’t wash anymore.

“The new regime may feel intimidating, but the new standards and requirements ensure that for the great many, it serves to reinforce the quality they already demonstrate with their clients, with the operation of their practice and the calibre of their staff.“

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