This week the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) have announced that over 600 legal firms had failed to nominate complaince officers by mid September 2012.
Since October 2011, all regulated legal practices had to nominate individuals to be their officers for legal practice, and finance and administration (COLPs and COFAs) and the SRA has warned that any firms who had still not done so by 1st January could have their licences revoked.
In order to ‘encourage’ firms to comply, the SRA are proposing to begin enforcement action shortly.
The SRA have also confirmed that they intend to inspect 150 firms at random to ensure their self-cetification is in order, however it is likely that this is just the thin end of the wedge!
In a separate announcement, HMRC have also notified their intention to target Legal firms in London in an ongoing clampdown on tax evasion estimated by the revenue to yield £3m in unpaid taxes.
London’s legal sector has been identified as one of the “high risk” trade sectors that merit special attention with Revenue teams expected to focus on 300 of the highest risk cases and visit firms to carry out their investigations and examine records.
Whist there is no implication that the legal sector has done anything wrong, the dual announcements this week are at best unfortunate.
If you would like any more infoprmation of the SRA requirements, or assistance in compliance our specialist Legal Team are available and will be delighted to review your systems and controls or provide internal training on the new regulations. Please contact us on the number below, or using the web form.