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SRA moves to reassure firms hit by bank computer woes
Banks paralysed by computer problems have promised to indemnify solicitors against any losses caused by the breakdown, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said today. The regulator in turn promised that no disciplinary action would be taken against firms caught out by the system failures.
The SRA said that ‘a number of firms’ will be affected by the system failure, which is preventing NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland from recording transactions made over the past three days. ‘For those firms completing on conveyancing transactions there will be particular concern that the funds are not available,’ the SRA said.
According to a statement, the two banks have confirmed that ‘where firms have used best endeavours to ensure the payment has been made into their account, for example by contacting lenders (or the buyers' solicitors) direct for confirmation of payment, they are prepared to give appropriate undertakings to indemnify solicitors.’ The SRA said that when contacting lenders' or buyers' solicitors about payments, firms should keep a full note of the date and time of the conversation, with whom they spoke and the amount transferred.
The SRA also assured solicitors that ‘we cannot foresee a situation where disciplinary action would be taken due to problems that arise as a result of these difficulties. Equally, should there be a breach of the SRA Accounts Rules as a consequence of the present system failures, and solicitors acting in their clients' best interests to nevertheless complete transactions, disciplinary action will not be taken.’
NatWest said in a statement today that the system problem ‘is strictly of a technical nature and we are working hard to fix it as soon as possible’. It promised that no customers would be permanently out of pocket as a result.
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