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Compliance in Conveyancing

25th March 2013

In this new era of Outcomes Focused Regulation (OFR), compliance specialist Legal Eye offers up a useful checklist for conveyancing firms wanting clarity on risk and requirements

One of the biggest challenges for Property Solicitors today is finding a balance between being competitive during the economic downturn and compliance with OFR. Some of the areas that Property Departments should target first and foremost as part of their plans for compliance are:

  1.  Ensuring that their Client Care Letters and Terms of Business are compliant.  This includes confirming which fees and disbursements are payable or an estimate of the fees and disbursements that will be payable.
  2. Ensuring that outward facing documentation- such as websites, email footer and letterheads contain the correct regulatory information.
  3. Ensuring that firms have an adequate Business Continuity Plan that is tested and reviewed regularly.
  4. Ensuring that a documented audit trail is in place- defining their file review process and timeframes for when corrective action is to be concluded.
  5. Ensuring that a Business Plan is in place and reviewed regularly.
  6. Ensuring adequate reporting procedures are in place for Anti Money Laundering, breach of regulations to the nominated COLP/COFA, conflicts of interest, complaints, high risk matters and undertakings.
  7. Ensuring an Annual Risk Review is conducted to demonstrate that the firm has analysed and addressed any risks exposed to the firm.
  8. Ensuring any outsourced activities / processes are compliant. Firms will require an Outsourcing Policy covering the methods of monitoring the impact and risk of outsourcing in an particular function, a due diligence approval process for potential companies they outsource to plus a provision for a Confidentiality Agreement signed by the person accepting work from the firm or business. Any agreement will need to incorporate consent for the Regulator to enter the outsourced supplier’s premises and review any material connected with the outsourcing.

 

Outcomes Focused Regulation has left many firms uncertain and unclear about what they need to have in place, which can often affect productivity within the practice. Compliance need not be cumbersome and can be useful to help structure procedures to minimize the firm’s exposure to its risk.

www.legal-eye.co.uk

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