This book is written by two well-known experts and contains all the regulatory material we need to refer to. There is new commentary on the likely move back by the SRA from entity regulation to regulation of individuals; changes to the separate business rule; important changes to consumer credit regulation and the impact on firms; and expected changes to the SRA Handbook, including an overhaul of the Accounts Rules.
One major proposed change is that money paid on account of costs or disbursements will cease to be treated as client money. The intention is to reduce the number of firms that must have both an office and client account and the number that have to produce an accountant’s report. We should not get too excited because there will be a corresponding duty to ‘safeguard money… entrusted to you by clients’.
The SRA’s consultation paper about the Accounts Rules states that, in the period June 2012 to December 2013, there were approximately 9,000 firms that held client money. Over 50% of those received a qualified accountant’s report, but only 179 were referred for possible regulatory action. This suggested to the SRA that the rules are too complicated and are not focused on key risks to client money. Interesting point.
Andrew Hopper QC and Gregory Treverton-Jones QC
£89.95, Law Society
The book has a new, brief section on cyber fraud. The section on money laundering is clear and concise. Anyone who does not know what ‘Friday afternoon fraud’ is should learn fairly quickly. The six key questions to ask yourself about dodgy doings should be tattooed on your hands.
The sections on accounts rules is helpful, particularly the parts on providing banking facilities to clients (do not do it). I think there is scope for further clarification of this rule. The book contains plenty on what happens if we get the rules wrong and what the SRA and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal can do to you.
This is well-written, concise and clear, but not always pleasant bedtime reading. Still, we all have to understand the principles and standards we are held to – and make sure that everyone in our firms grasps them as well.
David Pickup is a partner at Pickup and Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury