Hopefully, you should all have received an email from the SRA with a link to an online form to nominate your COLP and COFA. The email will have been sent to whoever in your practice is registered as the authorised signatory, although several of our clients have found their emails in their spam email boxes!
As you know, practices have until 31 July 2012 to submit their nomination forms. When completing the forms, practices will need to provide the full names and addresses of the COLP and COFA, their email addresses and a statement about whether they are a lawyer and, if so, what type. Practices will also be asked to complete a declaration that the nominees will be able to discharge their duties.
Once the forms have been submitted, the SRA will then contact the COLP and COFA and ask for more information on their date of birth, home address, former names, etc.
They will also be asked to confirm that they pass the SRA’s Suitability Test. Anyone with a criminal record (including a caution or local warning from the Police), a poor financial history (e.g. bankruptcy, had an IVA or a CCJ, or has been involved with a wound up company), or has had disciplinary proceedings with a regulatory body, may find that the SRA rejects their application, at least initially, unless there are strong mitigating circumstances.
All being well, nominations will be approved between 1 August 2012 and 31 December 2012. The COLP and COFA will then begin fulfilling their obligations from 1 January 2013 (this has been revised from the original date of 31 October 2012).
On the subject of COLPs and COFAs, we are beginning to see the emergence of brand new insurance policies, covering the new officers against any matters arising from their roles, including any costs incurred relating to regulatory investigations or proceedings, fines and penalties. We suspect that these are going to be very popular!
Now that the ‘new’ SRA Accounts Rules have been in force for a while, all practices should have implemented their formal policy for dealing with interest on client accounts (Rule 22 of the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011).
We have spoken to a few practices that have not yet got around to drafting up their formal policy and so now would be a good time to remind you all that we have drafted our own example policy and it is available for you to download and use as a template for your own practice if you need some help.
You can find it here.