As my firm’s COLP, how can I protect myself from personal liability?

As my firm’s compliance officer for legal practice, I know I’m obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with statutory obligations and the firm’s practice authorisation. I’m concerned about my personal liability. Do you have any guidance on steps I can take to protect myself?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made statements to the effect that compliance officers for legal practice (COLPs) and compliance officers for finance and administration (COFAs) will not be used as ‘sacrificial lambs’ where there’s a lack of firm-wide compliance.

The SRA sees compliance officers as the formal point of contact for compliance in a practice.

However, while the managers of a practice continue to bear the ultimate responsibility for a practice’s compliance, compliance officers may also personally face regulatory action where they fail to meet their responsibilities.

For this reason, it’s important that compliance officers consider their personal liability and are satisfied that appropriate safeguards are in place.

Our practice note on compliance officers contains information on issues to consider in relation to protecting the personal liability of COLPs and COFAs.

It’s for individual compliance officers to reach an agreement with their practice as to the best way to protect themselves against any potential liability.

There are a number of potential options that compliance officers may want to consider, including:

  • an indemnity agreement
  • an amendment to your employment contract
  • an endorsement on the practice’s professional indemnity insurance policy
  • an insurance product – for example, directors’ and officers’ cover or a specific COLP/COFA product
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.


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Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email practiceadvice@lawsociety.org.uk.


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