Making a report does not necessarily mean that all work on a file must stop. You are only prohibited, without the prior consent of NCA, from undertaking any act that would amount to money laundering, such as exchanging contracts or completing a purchase where there is a suspicion of criminal property. However, there may be other tasks that may be done. By way of example, you may be able to respond to correspondence and make searches. Continuing with this basic work may well prevent the client becoming concerned and avoid any awkward questions.
When talking with your client, you should be aware of the ‘tipping off’ offence under s333A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which makes it a criminal offence to tell a person that a report has been made where telling them will prejudice an investigation. However, other discussions may be had with the client.
When making a report, you can contact the Law Society's Practice Advice Service to discuss possible ways to manage the client's expectations and reducing the risk of being in a situation where tipping off becomes an issue.
For further information, please see Chapter 6 of the Draft anti-money laundering guidance for the legal sector.
You may also find this article useful: ‘Tipping Off: A Practical Guide to what you can tell your client’.
Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.