Practice and Procedure

11% of firms still lack compliance officers

PUBLISHED January 2, 2013

Wednesday 02 January 2013 by John Hyde

Nominated staff at more than 8,800 firms this week took up their new roles as compliance officers.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority confirmed that individuals at 89% of firms were approved to start work as watchdogs for legal practice, and finance and administration, known as COLPs and COFAs, from 1 January.

This leaves around 1,000 firms yet to appoint anyone to the role - a smaller number than the SRA says it expected at the start of December. The SRA has confirmed that firms yet to have approved compliance officers will not automatically lose their authorisation, despite them being a regulatory requirement.

But enforcement action will start this month against the 194 firms that have failed to co-operate with the nomination process, which could lead to their authorisation being revoked.

SRA director of risk Andrew Garbutt said: 'There are some firms which came very late to the process, or who delayed providing us with further information when required to do so, consequently these have not yet received notification of our decision concerning the nomination.

'In cases where we now have all the information we need, I anticipate we will be able to make a decision shortly. We are making every effort to ensure firms and individuals know the status of their nominations.'

Compliance officers will be required to ensure their firm has appropriate systems and controls in place to manage risks to the delivery of competent and ethical legal services.

Firms had to nominate staff members by 31 August 2012.