What a year!
Last year saw some noteworthy decisions made in the courts relating to the conveyancing industry. These decisions, coupled with the Code of Conduct in particular Principle 10, are of paramount importance to conveyancers when considering the protection of client money and the significant risk which cybercrime presents.
2016 case law
Conveyancers need to be aware and mindful of two significant cases when transacting and dealing with client monies. The cases of Purrunsing v A’Court (a firm) and another  EWHC 789 (Ch) and of P&P Property Ltd v Owen White & Catlin LLP & Anor  whilst similar to each other, had rather different outcomes.
Further to both cases, conveyancers will no doubt be reviewing their completion arrangements to ensure they do not fall foul to the cybercriminal at this final hurdle.
Preventing the problem before it occurs?
The challenges around cybercrime, whilst not new, are always evolving and require constant vigilance. Due to the rapidly changing nature of this type of criminal activity, solicitors need to be rigorous and ensure that they keep their due diligence and compliance policies up to date.
Published in September 2016, the Law Society’s Cyber Security Toolkit gives advice on how to safeguard digital information from both internal and external sources. It provides a number of precedents and templates to help ensure that firms meet all legal and regulatory requirements to protect solicitors, firms and their clients.
The SRA’s Risk Outlook 2016/17 also pinpoints the risk in this area as something the legal market should be aware of. This document gives a useful overview of the various types of cybercrime, scams and bogus law firms, and recommends undertaking various checks to combat them. It also suggests moving away from complex rules to free up firms to innovate and grow, whilst ensuring a high level of protection.
Lawyer Checker, as an award-winning market leader in risk management solutions, is one of the ways for fee earners to aid their own due diligence through the use of Account and Entity Screen and Consumer Bank Account Checker
Given the vast amount of media and regulatory coverage, it is therefore of utmost importance that there is a general awareness of the issues of cybercrime and fraud. It should be something that is at the forefront of conveyancers’ minds when undertaking their daily tasks, to ensure that the relevant checks are undertaken each and every time, lowering the risk of being caught out.
In the coming weeks, we will be hosting free webinars to ensure you are fully aware of the effects cybercrime and case law judgements have had on the industry.
Topics that will be covered include:
- P&P Ltd
- Law Society’s Cyber Toolkit
- Risk Outlook 2016/17
Contact – Rachel Booth – firstname.lastname@example.org