Requiring all 10,000 law firms to report non-material breaches to the Solicitors Regulation Authority is “unsustainable and cannot be justified”, the regulator’s board will be told today. Meanwhile, the number of firms and individuals facing action over COLP/COFA nomination failures has risen to 928.
Law firms will be held responsible for breaching the personal injury referral fee ban if they sign up to ventures that appear to be genuine joint marketing schemes but prove illegal, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has warned. It will also target senior individuals within firms that “recklessly trade into insolvency”.
The total number of firms and individuals in trouble with the Solicitors Regulation Authority over nominations for compliance officers has risen by a third in the past month to nearly 800, it has emerged.
More than 600 solicitors and law firms are facing action over their failures in nominating compliance officers, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed. It said the level of non-compliance was disappointing.
More than two months since law firms were meant to have their compliance officers in place, around 300 firms still do not have them, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed. This is a mix of firms that have not had their nominations approved and those that have still not nominated at all.
Nearly half of solicitors’ firms are not clear what regulatory outcomes they are expected to deliver, a survey on outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) has found – despite more than four out five people questioned being those responsible for ensuring compliance.
The scale of non-compliance with the SRA over COLPs and COFAs became clear yesterday, with 152 firms now facing enforcement action for failing to complete their nominations, and the revelation that 1,200 nominees did not declare “potentially relevant issues” – including undisclosed criminal convictions, serious disciplinary sanctions and undeclared bankruptcy.
Not all alternative business structure applicants have understood what is required of them, which in part explains delays in approving some licences, the chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has said in a robust defence of the regulator’s performance that also dealt with compliance officer approvals.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been celebrating the first year of its ABS licensing regime. It is not just a numbers game, but with 74 licences granted in that time and 300-odd still inching their way through the application process, it perhaps hasn’t necessarily been quite as glorious a first year as the SRA is making out – another way of looking at it is that there is a large backlog – but it has certainly been interesting given the range of approvals.
An outcomes-focused, risk-based approach to regulating the activities of most lawyers who deliver legal services in a post-Legal Services Act landscape is a fact of life. Yet you still don’t have to go far to find solicitors who either fail to grasp the concept or hanker after the old, detailed rules-based system. The degree of non-acceptance is profound, more than a year after outcomes-focused regulation came in – in October 2011. So persistent is it that the SRA may be relying on the insertion of compliance officers for legal practice and financial administration (COLPs and COFAs) into the fabric of every firm to help change attitudes.