Six hundred law firms had failed to nominate compliance officers by mid-September, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed.
The organisation this week warned firms they could have their licences revoked if their officers for legal practice, and finance and administration (COLPs and COFAs) are not in place by 1 January. The SRA insists the appointment process has been ‘running smoothly’ and that 90% of firms had their nominations in before the 31 July deadline.
For those yet to nominate, enforcement action will begin this week after attempts to engage constructively with firms failed. Over the next two weeks, the first tranche of COLPs and COFAs will be approved, subject to suitability checks.
Where the nominating firm has had issues flagged up by the SRA’s risk-based assessment, appointments could take longer. The SRA (based at The Cube, pictured) has also confirmed that 150 firms will be randomly selected to take part in a scrutiny exercise to test the validity of self-declarations.
Andrew Garbutt, SRA director of risk, said: ‘We're enormously encouraged by the response but the small number of firms who have not yet nominated their COLP/COFA must do so now.
‘We have sent three reminders and we will be following up with firms over the next few weeks. Nominating a COLP and COFA is a regulatory requirement and we will have to take disciplinary action if firms do not comply.’