The half day course for legal cashiers and finance staff will include a detailed discussion on the changes within the rules, the expectations of our regulator in what should have been done, and the practical implications of such areas as client bank reconciliations and transfers of costs. Included will also be specific VAT considerations that occur due to the new rules and how they should or could be implemented.
The new SRA account rules should have been implemented within your practice from November 25th 2019 when they came into effect along with new standards and regulations. Although the new rules appear to be little different, they have some fundamental changes in what was standard practice and in particular what is client monies and what is business (office) monies and how they are to be treated.
How fully have the new rules been integrated into the practice? What training has taken place with the Fee Earners to ensure that they understand the differences that have been created by the new rules?
You will be aware the rules are fewer in number and less prescriptive than the ones we have been used to dealing with. As always, this approach has been brought about by our regulator, the SRA, to allow legal service providers to choose how they wish to apply the rules within their practice. As a profession we are becoming no less self-regulated and you are still tasked with upholding the reputation of the profession and maintaining the high standards expected in relation to delivery of legal services in a manner to suit your client’s needs.
It is therefore important to have both knowledge and understanding when applying the new rules to ensure full compliance and a sound knowledge of the legislation these rules are built on. The changes are, in places, not particularly major but the SRA have an expectation that you as a solicitor and solicitors’ practice have reviewed and put in place how you wish to apply the new rules.
You are still required to have reviewed your internal controls and decided specifically to maintain some of the meanings of e.g. promptly, within your own procedures even though, where there is no internal practice drawn up the SRA have suggested the old rules will be applied. Note though that some of the changes in the rules mean that the old rules cannot apply thus making detailed knowledge of these new rules all the more important.