The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently used some of its new powers to issue fines to three law firms for failure to comply with transparency rules; automatic fixed penalty fines were introduced at the end of last year to reduce the time and cost of prosecuting low-level compliance breaches.
Not only did the firms in question have to pay penalties of £750 each but they also suffered the negative publicity of the details being published by the SRA.
Direction of travel
Even if failing to put prescribed information on their websites might not be regarded as the most heinous breach, the news highlights the direction of travel for compliance in the legal sector – more rules, more enforcement and more publicity even for low-level breaches.
The SRA has already put forward the idea of expanding fixed penalties into other areas such as failure to complete anti-money laundering returns and is also looking at increasing the scope of its powers to impose greater penalties.
It’s not just the legal regulator which demands compliance across a huge range of regulatory matters. Depending on the type of work carried out by a firm, there are numerous rules that may come into play, such as data protection (Information Commissioner) and financial services (Financial Conduct Authority).
The optics of failure aren’t good
Tripping up on compliance issues and being fined or “named and shamed” for regulatory breaches is never a good look for law firms! Firms can expect to receive routine attention and be inspected by the SRA from time to time.
Is your firm properly prepared for such attention?
Does it have the correct number of staff doing the necessary work to keep on the right side of compliance?
Working in partnership with you
In our previous blog: Why risk and compliance matters more than ever for law firms , we explored how Global BPO’s services help firms mitigate the myriad of business risks they face every day. Of course, law firms have their own strategies for dealing with these and we see our role as facilitating their particular approach.
We don’t give legal advice on compliance to our clients but we work in partnership with them to understand their needs and we take our cue from them, following their individual preferences and requirements.
So often, non-compliance happens because there aren’t enough of the right resources in the right place – employees are overworked and miss things; near-misses which could be a timely wake-up call go unnoticed and technical breaches are ignored, until it’s too late.
Talk to us
Talk to us to find out how we could help your legal business manage its risk and compliance issues. For more information contact our Client Manager, Suzie Young, at: email@example.com