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Compliance Officers and Practice Managers

By 31st July 2012, every solicitors practice in England & Wales will have had to nominate a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) and a Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA), who are responsible for ensuring that their firm has a coherent approach to regulatory matters.  For alternative business structures, they too will have to nominate an equivalent HOLP and a HOFA for whom the same provisions apply.

The COLP and COFA will be the first point of contact for the SRA when raising regulatory issues with your firm and it is important to ensure that your COLP and COFA understand their obligations and that the firm has put systems and procedures in place to allow you to demonstrate regulatory compliance. 

Chapter 7 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2011 requires the firm to have ‘effective systems and controls in place to achieve and comply with all the Principles, rules and outcomes … of the Handbook’ (see Outcome 7.2).  This is an onerous burden and it is vital that firms consider now how they will demonstrate such systems and controls to the SRA.

In addition, the COLP and COFA will be responsible for immediately reporting material breaches and for disclosing any and all non-material breaches in the annual Information Report to the SRA. Your firm must therefore have systems to identify and record both material and non-material breaches.  SRA guidance also recommends that COLPs consider systems for undertakings, checks on new staff, monitoring regulatory deadlines, monitoring and managing risk, professional conduct issues, file reviews and staff development as part of their role and each of these items must be given due weight and consideration.

Quality and Compliance Legal can assist you by assessing your current systems and working with you to improve and develop appropriate systems for your firm.  We can also provide templates, where required, to ease the burden of developing and writing your own policies and procedures. 

Quality & Compliance Legal can also provide Practice Managers with advice and support on a range of issues, such as policies on equality and diversity, business continuity, whistleblowing, which are all required by the new Handbook.

Whether you need help with drafting the firm’s office manual, a reminder of recent regulatory up-dates or to outsource your file reviews to experienced auditors, we can offer affordable support. 

We can liaise with you in relation to forthcoming audits and guide you in the right direction.  We can help you improve your firm’s internal quality systems and encourage a culture of continuous improvement and review.

Whether you need one off telephone advice and support (which will be charged on an hourly rate basis after the initial free consultation) in-house training or more structured project work, you can be confident that we can add value to your firm and allow you to focus on the varied demands of your practice.

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Rebecca Curran – Non Practising Solicitor. | Tel 07545 022 934. | Email: