The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has this week published a number of new and revised SRA Guidance documents for solicitors. The SRA Guidance documents, which cover a range of regulatory topics, are important for firms to be aware of because, although not part of the SRA Standards and Regulations, nevertheless they may be taken account of by the SRA when it is exercising its regulatory functions. Therefore, whilst firms do not necessarily need to do everything required of them by the SRA Guidance documents, they may need to have cogent reasons for not having done so in the event that they are subject to an inspection or regulatory process.
As at the date of this article, the following SRA Guidance documents have been produced this month. These are:
- The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds – Guidance
- Designed to assist all those regulated by the SRA to understand their obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs) and in particular to update firms and individuals on the key changes to the MLRs that came into effect on 26 June 2017 covering issues including independent legal professionals, trust and company service providers, auditors, insolvency practitioners, external accountants and tax advisers and estate agents.
- SRA investigations: Health issues and medical evidence – Guidance
This guidance is to help solicitors to understand the approach taken by the SRA in relation to health issues raised by those subject to an SRA investigation and the medical evidence that the SRA might ask for.
The SRA state that they recognise that the regulatory process can be a stressful and anxious time for those being investigated, especially those who are vulnerable or have poor physical or mental health. The SRA are keen to balance carefully the public interest against the interests of the individual which may involve the SRA taking a consistent, fair and proportionate approach when health issues are raised.
- Can my business be authorised? – Guidance
- If a business needs to be authorised to provide legal services, or if the owners have chosen to be authorised, this Guide in the form, of a checklist provides a summary of the eligibility requirements.
- Issuing Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings – Guidance
- This SRA Guidance document is designed to help solicitors understand the approach taken by the SRA when deciding whether to issue proceedings in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
- Firm risk assessments – Guidance
- This SRA Guidance document is designed to help firms to understand how those subject to the money laundering regulations must comply with the requirement to have a firm wide risk assessment under regulation 18.
- The SRA’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion – Guidance
- This is an update of a Guidance document previously issued in July 2019 and covers how, from an equality and diversity perspective, you (a) run your firm and the services you provide, (b) interact with the people you work with, including your employees, and (c) meet the diverse needs of your clients and others.
In addition, the SRA have also produced two warning notices covering “Money laundering and terrorist financing” and “Money laundering and terrorist financing suspicious activity reports”.
More infromation on all of these can be found on the SRA website.