Hundreds of solicitors and firms in the dock for COLP and COFA failures

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12 March 2013

Townsend: robust approach to enforcement

More than 600 solicitors and law firms are facing action over their failures in nominating compliance officers, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed.

Enforcement action is being taken over failing to disclose information relevant to the nomination (448 cases), and failing to co-operate with the SRA either in not nominating anyone or failing to provide the SRA with information associated with a nomination (200 cases).

An as-yet unspecified number of solicitors and firms will also face action for breach of the authorisation rules/practising regulation because they did not have an approved compliance officer for legal practice and for finance and administration (COLP/COFA) in place on 1 January.

In his report to tomorrow’s SRA board meeting, chief executive Antony Townsend said that nominations from 307 firms have yet to be approved, while 118 firms have yet to complete the process.

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Of the 307, most have been held up by late submission, unknown or declared suitability issues, nominees with pending disciplinary matters, re-nominations, and data issues (incorrect SRA numbers being cited, meaning the authority cannot check the identity of the nominee).

Mr Townsend said: “This level of non-cooperation and non-disclosure is concerning and disappointing. We have previously stated our intention to adopt a robust approach to enforcement in order to establish a credible deterrent to future non-cooperation and non-disclosure.

“In addition, those firms that do not have an approved COLP and COFA will be at risk of proceedings to revoke their licence or recognition of as a sole practitioner.”

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