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Compliance officers

2 May 2013

The SRA introduced outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) on 6 October 2011.

All recognised and licensed bodies must nominate a compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and a compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA).

COLPs are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure their firm's compliance with all of its regulatory objectives, except in relation to the SRA Accounts Rules which are the responsibility of the COFA. These requirements are set out in the SRA Authorisation Rules.

Although COLPs and COFAs can be employees, as well as managers, they need to be individuals with sufficient seniority within a firm to ensure that they have the authority to properly carry out the role. This includes having access to management systems and other relevant information such as client files and business information.

The existence of the COLP and COFA does not remove ultimate responsibility for regulatory obligations from the principals in a firm. The SRA has highlighted that responsibility for compliance ultimately rests with the managers of a practice, but compliance officers may also find regulatory action is taken against them where they fail to meet their responsibilities.

The SRA held its first conference for COLPs and COFAs on 16 October 2013. Information about the conference, including speeches and presentations, is available on the SRA's website.