Although we are now well into the summer, there is still plenty going on. Make the most of the longer days, as even if it is quieter, there is plenty of compliance planning to do, particularly if you want to spread your compliance costs.
Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) Update:
If you are a CQS accredited firm, you need to be aware of two major changes:
· the CQS Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) have been updated and you must now comply with the new standards. The changes are significant, particularly in areas of concern such as cybersecurity, AML and anti-property and mortgage fraud
· the Law Society is now assessing accredited firms through audits to check compliance with the standard. You must show full compliance with the new CQS CPMS if assessed.
The new CPMS moves CQS further towards Lexcel. So, if you have CQS accreditation and are considering Lexcel, the new CPMS will provide an excellent springboard for Lexcel preparation.
Even if you have recently updated for Lexcel v6.1, your manual alone will not cover the CQS CPMS requirements. Many of the new or expanded CQS CPMS regulations are specifically related to residential conveyancing not included in the Lexcel v6.1 standard.
For more information about our CQS services, see here.
To read more about the changes, see Changes to CQS
Changes to UK GDPR
Despite the political musical chairs at the top of government, the UK Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was introduced just before the summer recess. This emphasises the importance of the proposed legislation which is expected to survive whether Liz or Rishi win. Areas that will be interest to smaller businesses will be simplified rights to hold on to client’s personal data for regulatory purposes (a very muddled area at present) and a more pro-business approach to data subject access requests designed to reduce the number of such requests.
Pinsent Mason has published a useful commentary on the Bill. We will be monitoring its progress. If you want any help with data protection issues, please let me know.
No edition of Compliance Lifeline can go by without a reference to money laundering and this one is no different. Several developments have taken place since our last issue:
· HM Treasury has approved the updated Legal Sector Affinity Group guidance. This is now formally the best practice guide to compliance with AML/CTF. Don’t be fooled by “best practice”. Large sections of the guide are mandatory.
· The Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT) has issued further guidance on red flags in connection with sanctions against Russian Nationals, which makes helpful reading. These include sales of assets such as homes to affiliates, suspicious consultancy arrangements as a way of moving wealth, changes in wealth ownership structures, such as shareholding in businesses and trusts. There is also a rise detected in new off the shelf companies with no trading record or accounts being used to facilitate one off transactions.
Criminals are constantly evolving their methods of facilitation. A tactic used by the sanctioned Russian elite today, will be adopted by the more commonplace villain tomorrow. Stay vigilant.
If you need an up-to-date AML Policy, help with reviewing your AML Practice Wide Risk Assessment, an independent AML Audit of your firm, or practical AML update training, please contact us.
Practising Certificate Renewals
Yes, it’s that time of year with the renewal date fast approaching. One area where a firm needs to be careful is ensuring that all solicitors meet the standards set out in the Statement of solicitor competence; competence being "the ability to perform the roles and tasks required by one's job to the expected standard". This underpins Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs, 3: Service and Competence. It is important to note that managers must ensure that the individuals you manage are competent to carry out their role, and keep their professional knowledge and skills, as well as understanding of their legal, ethical, and regulatory obligations, up to date.
So, our advice is:
· Make sure everyone has completed the training they need in their learning and development plans
· Test their knowledge
· Make sure they have their training records in place
· Pay special attention to their understanding of the Code of Conduct and legal ethics, not just competence in the law in their specialist area.
There you have it. The dog days of summer are actually a good time to catch up and be ahead of the game when it gets busy again as the schools return in September. If we can help with any compliance or training issues, please do call us on 01743 294 863 or alternatively email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you can enjoy the summer months. The next Compliance Lifeline will be in September.