Maintaining registers as evidence of compliance
There are a number of ways in which a firm can evidence their compliance with the codes of conduct, solicitor’s accounts rules and other legislation, but the simplest form of evidence is to capture information as it arises, investigate promptly and take action that is needed.
It is essential that law firms are able to evidence their compliance and the easiest way to achieve this is by maintaining centralised registers that reflect the activity of the firm and the activity of the compliance officers.
Most firms will have policies and procedures in place to adhere to the codes of conduct, but many fall short when it comes to evidencing the application of the policies and procedures.
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Maintaining registers as evidence of compliance
The following steps that should be undertaken to ensure your firm is able to demonstrate active compliance with the codes are listed below:-
1. Update, review and ensure your policies and procedures reflect what happens in your firm in practice.
2. Train your staff on your policies and communicate any changes to previous policies.
3. Provide your staff with easy access to the compliance officers through simple to use notification forms or if your budget allows, develop your system to receive notifications directly to the compliance officers where they can be actioned.
4. Put in place registers that are easy to use and maintain and that are accessible by the appropriate compliance officers.
5. As notifications are received from the staff, immediately update the registers to ensure data is captured efficiently.
6. Investigate the issue notified to the compliance officer, enabling these notifications to be closed on the register or action to be taken.
7. Review your registers monthly to ensure that entries are dealt with and ongoing investigations are conducted.
8. Provide a short monthly report with an overview of the compliance activity, ensuring the partners and other compliance officers receive a copy of the report.
9. As necessary, analyse trends and take action that is needed to update or change policies and procedure and train your staff on issues that are arising.
Registers that a firm should look to maintain include:-
1. COLP Register – Which contains details of all COLP notifications, the investigation undertaken and the outcome. This will also retain copies of audits undertaken by the firm.
2. COFA Register – Which contains details of all COFA notifications, the investigation undertaken and the outcome.
3. Complaint Register – Which contains details of all complaints raised against the firm, the investigation undertaken and the outcome.
4. GDPR Breach register – Which contains details of any data protection breach, the investigation undertaken and the outcome.
5. Negligence or Potential Negligence Register – Which contains details of any negligence or potential negligence claims and information on whether the client or insurer has been notified.
6. Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) Register – Which contains all reports arising from the firm’s anti money laundering policy, the investigation undertaken and the outcome.
7. High Risk Register – Which contains details of any matter which is regarded as high risk
8. Undertakings Register – Which contains all undertakings provided by the firm and whether they are live or closed. This does not include standard understanding provided on property sales and purchases.
9. Training Record – Which contains a record of all training undertaken by individuals within the firm.
10. Undertakings Register – Which contains details of all undertakings provided by the firm
11. Conflict Register – Which contains details of any conflict matters and the action taken
12. Gifts Register – Which contains details of gifts provided to the firm or any person within the firm.
The maintenance of registers is essential for every law firm to demonstrate to both the Solicitors Regulation Authority and their Professional Indemnity Insurers to evidence that they are maintaining a health compliance structure that is also sensitive to risk.
An effective compliance structure is not just about having registers in place to record information as it is sent to the compliance officers, but analysis of the data is essential. It is the data itself which leads firms to assess, adapt and change their working practices to fulfil their regulatory and risk control obligations and to take action that is needed to protect the firm, its staff and clients.
The maintenance of registers can be made more difficult by allowing them to be ignored for a period of time. If a firm allows registers to become out of date and not updated regularly, the task of bringing them back in line with requirements can be onerous.
The reality is that for many firms the compliance officers themselves are fee earners, managers and supervisors and having time the to maintain the registers, becomes more problematic in the day to day environment.
This does not mean that they can be overlooked, as should a firm fail to maintain their registers it will expose the firm to allegations of inappropriate supervision and controls.
At The Strategic Partner we have developed an integrated compliance and administration service that works alongside firms and their compliance officers to maintain, manage and control the firm compliance structure. It is a cost effective, fully managed service that ensures firms stay in control and can actively demonstrate an effective culture of compliance.
Full details of our services can be found in the following brochure: -
Compliance Administration Service
Our services are focussed on strengthening firms and improving their service delivery and profitability. The Compliance Administration Service enables compliance officers and firm owners to be confident that compliance is being taken care of while they can focus on running the firm, servicing clients and earning fees.
Outsourcing compliance, once there is trust in the service provider, comes down to an economic decision. Are you able to increase your fee income if you outsource the management of compliance? The TSP service is charged monthly and has been priced at a level which is likely to be less than 1 to 2 hours of fee earning work for a senior member of the team.
Each firm is different and pricing will depend on the number of staff and offices and the time we spend on managing your compliance. We will discuss this with you and commence our relationship with an initial agreed fee that we will monitor based on the time we spend working for you.
Get in Touch
For more information on how The Strategic Partner can work with you and your firm to manage and control compliance, you can contact us on 0203 911 9710, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to make an online enquiry https://www.thestrategicpartner.co.uk/Contact-Us.