Do we need to carry out a DBS check on a newly hired solicitor?

We’re taking on a new solicitor. Do we have to carry out Disclosure and Barring Service checks?

If your firm takes on an admitted solicitor, you are not required to insist on them submitting to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, unless they need specific approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Persons needing SRA approval include:

  • all candidates for admission as solicitors or registered European/foreign lawyers
  • compliance officers for legal practice (COLP)
  • compliance officers for financial affairs (COFA)
  • beneficial owners or managers (BOOM)

The DBS check for them should be within the last three months. See the SRA’s guidance on DBS checks for beneficial owners, officers and managers.

Firms wishing to be accredited under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) must make sure that all partners and qualified conveyancers have undergone DBS checks within the last 12 months.

Those wishing to join CQS are also advised to make sure all other relevant members of staff have up-to-date DBS checks.

Other categories of employees may be subject to DBS checks. Consider the DBS guidance on eligibility for standard DBS checks.

Firms may wish to consider whether they are putting themselves at risk by failing to carry out basic disclosure checks on their staff before employing them.

There is a particular risk with respect to compliance with regulation 21 of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

Compliance principle 35 of the anti-money laundering guidance for the legal sector also states:

“The practice must undertake screening of relevant employees – both at pre-employment stage and on an ongoing basis.”

As chapter 9 of the guidance makes clear, such screening may need to include DBS checks.

For more information, see the anti-money laundering guidance for the legal sector.


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.

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