As promised in our last article (and requested by others) we have devised a guidance list of information that members of staff of a law firm should consider reporting to the COLP (Compliance Officer for Legal Practice)
You can download this article as a PDF by clicking on the link below
The reporting obligation of the COLP is the same as the COFA and it is therefore incumbent on all members of staff to notify the COLP when they consider an issue has arisen as detailed below. The duty to report a matter to the COLP applies to everyone and if an issue is noted it is the individual’s responsibility to report this to them as quickly as possible and not to leave it or ignore it.
Failure to make a report could draw you into an investigation or result in the matter deteriorating further with additional consequences: –
You have breached any of the Principles or Codes of Conduct
You are aware that a colleague has breached any of the principles or codes of conduct
You are declared bankrupt
You are found guilty of a crime receive a criminal charge, conviction or caution
You become aware that another person has been convicted of a criminal charge, conviction or caution
You are the victim of discrimination of any kind by any person
You believe another person is being discriminated against
You become aware that information you have previously supplied to the SRA was false or incorrect
You become aware that information provided by another person was false or incorrect
You believe you may have been negligent, or it is alleged you have been negligent
You are concerned about any health and safety matters
You become aware that you or the firm has been hit by a Cyber Breach
You become aware of data theft or you lose client data (also tell the data compliance officer)
You have disclosed client information in error to another party
You need to make an unauthorised disclosure (without the consent of the client)
You are contacted by the SRA or any other authority about your conduct or the firm’s conduct
Any person threatens to report you or the firm to the SRA for any reason even where such a report would be unfounded
You believe another firm has breached the Principles or Codes of Conduct
You become aware that the firm has been a victim of fraud
You become aware that another person is taking action or is hiding something that is likely or will be a breach of the Codes of Conduct or Principles
You are requested by another person to keep the information confidential that you believe is an attempt to prevent you from making a report
When to Report
The answer to this one is simple – immediately on the discovery, do not delay as it could prejudice an investigation.
As with the COFA article, a reminder for the COLP on what you should consider when a report is made to you: –
Was the breach caused due to delay, error, or negligence?
Was the breach an innocent mistake or was it deliberate?
Was the report made promptly?
Was the breach an isolated incident or a series of incidents?
How much money is involved or how severe is the problem?
Was there any loss to the client or any other party?
Could the breach have been easily avoided?
Does a report need to be made to the SRA?
Deciding on a report to the SRA can become a complex area and importantly getting things wrong can lead to consequences for failure to notify the SRA of a matter which they later decide was reportable.
Our SRA Compliance Services
At The Strategic Partner, we work with firms and their COLPs and COFAs to assist them with the management of risk, compliance and regulation through our two compliance solutions or we can provide individual training and guidance.
We always provide bespoke services as we recognise that every law firm is different. It is essential to provide guidance, consultancy, written documents, training and procedures that meet the exact requirement of the firm to overcome rather than provision templated solutions.