Deborah Anderson provides updates from the Solicitors
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) recently published new
guidance on the notification requirements for partner appointments.
These requirements were more onerous than was previously the case
and all law firms would need to have been aware of the changes when
appointing new partners. However, less than a month after issuing
the guidance, the requirements changed.
Prior to the changes, the SRA must have pre-approved every
partner appointment made after 1 April 2012. The approval process
for a solicitor partner was anticipated to take around 30 days, but
could be substantially longer (between 12 to 16 weeks) for a
Registered Foreign Lawyer partner. However, it appears that common
sense has prevailed as firms are now allowed to notify SRA of
partner appointments after they have occurred, although the
requirements still apply for a Registered Foreign Lawyer.
Appointing COLPs and COFAs
In April 2012, the SRA announced that the nomination process for
compliance officers for legal practice (COLP) and finance and
administration (COFA) will open on 31 May 2012. Firms will have
until 31 July 2012 to make their nominations, and initially most
were expected to be approved between 1 August and 31 October 2012.
This has now been revised to 1 August to 31 December 2012. COLPs
and COFAs must start fulfilling their duties no later than 1
The launch of the form has been delayed due to the late start of
the practising certificate renewals and recognition exercise. But
the SRA has stated that this should allow more time to consider the
nomination and approval process and, hopefully, ensure that firms
do not experience difficulties.
Firms will be asked to complete a web-based nomination form in
which they and the nominee compliance officer will need to confirm
they understand their obligations
they have suitable arrangements in place
the nominee is qualified, suitable and consents to undertake
In a recent speech, Samantha Barrass, SRA executive director,
stated: "...signatures in actual blood aren't obligatory,
but I think our intention to focus minds is clear and we will take
it very seriously if subsequently it becomes clear that
declarations were signed unthinkingly."
She went on to stress that while the COLP and COFA will act as
the formal focus points for compliance, they are not the
sacrificial lambs enabling others within the firm, particularly
senior managers, to absolve themselves from their responsibilities.
If this were the case then the regime would fail its most important
test: creation of a firmwide culture of compliance.
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