COVID-19: Response from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Ross Prince, Partner, Professional Practices

The practicalities of managing coronavirus (COVID-19) has an impact on law firms’ ability to meet their regulatory obligations.

To assist firms at this challenging time, the SRA has created a coronavirus update webpage and provided a response to a number of common regulatory queries.

A few key areas where firms should have contingency plans include:

  • the event that the firm’s COLP, COFA or money laundering compliance officer becomes ill and unable to fulfil their duties – while short-term illness of a week or two may be covered by a deputy, long-term sickness may require temporary emergency approval of another person
  • control of client money, especially the completion of five-weekly client money reconciliations, should key finance personnel become unavailable
  • safeguarding client information and confidentiality when remote working – consideration should be given to raising the issue with clients and limiting information access to remote workers to the minimum required, potentially redacting sensitive information if appropriate.

The challenges of remote working and social-distancing may also introduce delay in the completion of Accountant’s Reports. The SRA currently acknowledges that these are exceptional circumstances and will take ‘a pragmatic and proportionate approach to any delay in the preparation of an Accountant’s Report.’

The SRA webpage contains more useful examples and will be updated as the situation develops. It is recommended reading for law firm Managers, COLPs and COFAs.

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Ross Prince
Ross Prince
Partner, Audit