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The Strategic Scoop
May 3, 2024

N e w s
Roundup

All the Top Stories in One Place
See below to recap on all the recent news that has impacted your industry


Welcome to the first issue of the Strategic Scoop, a comprehensive roundup and recap of all the recent stories that have impacted your industry. Keeping you updated with all the latest news stories is just one of the ways we at TSP keep you in the loop, and your regular roundup ensures you are always filled in on the latest changes, keeping you that one essential step ahead.


Sole Practitioner Fined £5,000 by SRA for Accounts Failings


A solicitor has been fined over £5,000 for failing to keep accurately compliant books of accounts for a period spanning over a decade. The sole practitioner has run the firm since 2010, but consistent issues were identified in the qualified accountants’ reports submitted between 2012 all the way through to 2022.


The published agreed decision by the Solicitors Regulation Authority stated that between April 1st – 31st March 2022, the solicitor failed to keep sufficiently compliant books of accounts. The SRA also stated that client account reconciliations were not completed within an acceptable amount of time, and bookkeeping transaction posts were severely delayed. The regulator’s decision to fine was also subject to the solicitor’s failure to verify that the accountants’ reports for 2020 and 2021 were submitted on time.


The SRA said the solicitor’s breaches ‘amounted to a deliberate pattern of behaviour over a prolonged period of time. [The solicitor] would have known the importance of submitting accountants’ reports on time, completing regular bank reconciliations and making sure client ledgers were maintained contemporaneously.’
Ultimately, the SRA fined the solicitor £5,411, alongside an additional payment of £600 to cover investigation costs.


Read the full article here:

Sole Practitioner Fined £5,000 by SRA for Accounts Failings

Property Lawyers Beware: Changes to the limitation period for Planning Enforcement Will Likely Catch Property Lawyers Off Guard


As of Thursday 25th April, a change to the limitation period for planning enforcement stands to potentially catch out property owners, developers, and property Lawyers. The change will see a much harsher approach to planning enforcement, so make sure to update your firm as soon as possible.


What is the new law? When there is an unauthorised ‘operational development’, the local authority has up to ten years to commence enforcement action. ‘Operational development’ covers operations (building, mining, engineering, etc.) on, over or under land, such as construction or extension projects. Most activities of this kind would typically require planning permission (though some exemptions do exist) and failing to obtain it can lead to enforcement proceedings and potentially criminal convictions if the breach is not dealt with sufficiently.


The adjustments to the law are now officially in place and are a continuation of the Planning Act 2008, Commencement Number 8, and Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, Commencement Number 4, and Transitional Provisions, Regulations 2024. Please note that these changes to the law apply only to England and not Wales.


To read the full article, follow the link below:

Property Lawyers Beware: Changes to the Limitation Period for Planning Enforcement Will Likely Catch Property Lawyers Off Guard


Companies House To Introduce Identity Verification


In a recent update, Companies House reminded businesses that it will introduce an identity verification process to help deter those wishing to use companies for illegal purposes. While there are no details yet as to when this will come into effect, the changes are being put in place in a bid to help deter those wishing to use companies for illegal purposes.


‘Anyone setting up, running, owning or controlling a company in the UK will need to verify their identity to prove they are who they claim to be.’ Identity verification will also apply to other registration types, including any members of a limited liability partnership (LLP).


The policy will also apply to existing companies, not just those that set up after the registration changes. However, Companies House has confirmed that for existing companies, all directors (or equivalent) and people with significant control (PSCs) will have a transition period to verify their identity with Companies House.


To read the full article, follow the link below:
Companies House To Introduce Identity Verification

London Firm Fined £15k AML Training Failures


The Solicitors Regulation strikes again and sues yet another firm after discovering failures in standard anti-money laundering measures. The firm, located in South east London, was fined £15,200 after it was discovered they did not make staff aware of AML requirements and failed to provide them with adequate training. It also transpired that the firm did not have the necessary AML documents in place to do conveyancing work.


The SRA said the firm’s conduct “persisted for longer than was reasonable” and was a breach of its regulatory and legislative obligations despite being given guidance and warning notices about the requirements, particularly when engaged in high-risk conveyancing work. Regardless, Austen-Jones Solicitors cooperated with the investigation to remedy the breaches.


The regulator ruled that the firm should be fined 2.4% of its annual domestic turnover alongside an order to pay £1,350 in costs. Austen-Jones Solicitors is just one in a line of more than twenty firms fined since last October for failing to comply with money laundering regulations. Owing to their new fining powers of up to £25,000 and the new way of calculating fines as a percentage of turnover, these sanctions have shown a tendency to be more severe than the SRA have issued in the past.


To read the full article, click the link below:

SRA Fine London Firm £15k for AML Training Failures


Bournemouth & District Law Society Compliance Conference


We are pleased to announce that The Strategic Partner (TSP) will be attending the upcoming Bournemouth & District Law Society Compliance Conference on Wednesday, 3 July 2024, – from 09:15 – 17:00. TSP Managing Director David Green will be there as one of the keynote speakers, delivering two insightful sessions; one aimed at equipping law firms with effective strategies to handle MLR 2017 management, and one on how to prepare for a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) visit:


Anti-Money Laundering – Beyond the Obvious: This session aims to inform members about the intricacies of effective MLR 2017 management. It outlines the processes for adoption or consideration to safeguard your firm from potential pitfalls. It will cover aspects such as


Matter and Firm Risk Assessment
Regulation 18 Risk Assessment
Controls and Supervision
Policy Structure


Compliance and Supervision: Preparing for the SRA’s Arrival: This session is designed to inform law firms on how to structure their business effectively to reduce the worry about a potential visit from the SRA. It will also link compliance management to risk and financial management, which can have a positive impact on a firm’s risk profile for insurance purposes. It will cover aspects such as:


Controlling Risk and a Positive Impact on Professional Indemnity Insurance
Effective Supervision – what is really involved?
Financial Management


To read the full article, click the link below:

Bournemouth & District Law Society Compliance Conference

S C A M
A l e r t s


Letter misusing the name of Thomas Higgins Limited

A letter has been sent to a member of the public that falsely purports to have been prepared by Thomas Higgins Limited. The letter seen by the SRA relates to a purported outstanding debt. It says that unless the recipient makes payment, court proceedings will be issued.

The letter says that queries/payments must be made to ‘Miss K Chapman’ and provides the telephone number ‘07592 314 691’. The letter misuses the name, address and VAT registration number of a genuine firm of solicitors. Any business or transactions through the telephone number of ‘07592 314 691’ are not undertaken by an individual or firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called Thomas Higgins Limited whose address is Lloyds Chambers, 19-21 Seaview Road, Wallasey, CH45 4TH. The VAT registration number of the genuine firm of solicitors is GB 243 0890 18. The SRA also authorises and regulates a genuine solicitor called Katie Chapman.


Email misusing the name of ‘Farrer & Co LLP’

An email has been sent supposedly from an individual called ‘Suzanna Berkowicz’ falsely claiming to be from a genuine firm of solicitors. The email seen by the SRA requests that the recipient transfers €8,000 for legal costs and they will receive $9.5m in return.

The email was sent from the domain ‘@farrer-chamber.co.uk’. The SRA does not authorise or regulate a solicitor called ‘Suzanna Berkowicz’.

Any business or transaction through the domain ‘@farrer-chamber.co.uk’ on behalf of ‘Farrer & Co LLP’ is not undertaken by a genuine firm of solicitors. The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called Farrer & Co LLP which uses the domain name ‘@farrer.co.uk’.


Website claiming to be for ‘Piper May Solicitors’

The SRA has become aware of a website at ‘www.pipermaysolicitors.com’ which is operating and falsely claiming to be a law firm called ‘Piper May Solicitors’. The telephone number provided on the website is ‘020 3376 8293’ and an email address of ‘admin@pipermaysolicitors.com’ was also provided. The website misuses the trading name and registered address of a genuine firm of solicitors.

Any business or transaction through the website ‘www.pipermaysolicitors.com, telephone number ‘020 3376 8293’ and email ‘admin@pipermaysolicitors.com’ are not undertaken by a firm authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called Piper May Solicitors Ltd. The office address is 159 The Broadway Southall Middlesex UB1 1LR. The telephone number is 0208 574 5006. The website is at www.pipermay.com and the email domain ends with @pipermay.com.


Website claiming to be a law firm called ‘DC Legal Services Solicitors’

The SRA has become aware of a website at ‘www.dclegal-solicitors.com’ operating and falsely claiming to be a law firm called ‘DC Legal Services Solicitors’. The telephone number provided on the website is ‘020 3376 8293’ and an email address of ‘admin@dclegal-solicitors.com’ was also provided.

The SRA does not authorise or regulate a firm of solicitors called ‘DC Legal Services Solicitors’. The website misuses the registered address of a genuine firm of solicitors with a similar name. Any business or transaction through ‘DC Legal Services Solicitors’ or the contact details above are not undertaken by a firm authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called DC Legal Services Limited trading as Simon Noble Solicitors. The head office address is 131 High Street Enfield Middlesex EN3 4EB. The telephone number is 0208 804 3594. The website is at www.simonnoblesolicitors.com and the email domain ends with @simonnoblesolicitors.com.

I’ve Been Contacted – What are the next steps?


When a firm’s or individual’s identity has been copied (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s) or have received similar information from sources you believe might be suspicious, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means.

You can also contact the SRA directly to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual’s or firm’s practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.


Get in Touch with The Strategic Partner

TSP are always at hand to provide tailored guidance to help you make the most informed and beneficial decisions. Helping you understand the recurrent regulatory shifts and working with you to provide solutions to any problems that may occur as a result is something we are both equipped and prepared to assist you with. With our team of professional specialists and our renowned legal expertise, we can work with your firm to always ensure you are never left unprepared in the wake of legal changes.

Contact Us

If you require any further information or support, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the information below. We will always be happy to hear from you.

0203 911 9710
info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk

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