The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have updated their guidance for firms and solicitors on making sure they are adhering to the Government’s sanctions on Russian nationals and organisations in light of the conflict in Ukraine.
Along with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), the SRA published guidance for firms and solicitors in February to help them be aware of dealing with those on sanctions lists and conveyancers’ responsibilities under the Money Laundering Regulations.
This has been updated to provide further detail, and remind practitioners that this is a developing situation and the sanctions list is being updated on a very regular basis. The SRA have emphasised that a client might not have been on the list when a firm started a piece of work for them, but could be added before the work is complete.
The guidance states that:
“Your firm must have appropriate policies in place to ensure you comply with sanctions legislation, including carrying out regular and appropriate checks of sanctions lists. We expect you to take your responsibilities under the regime to safeguard the UK and protect the reputation of the legal services industry seriously.
The financial sanctions regime prevents law firms from doing business or acting for listed individuals, entities or ships (without a licence). Firms should check the financial sanctions lists before offering services or undertaking transactions for clients. If an individual is on the sanctions list and subject to an asset freeze, firms may not deal with those funds or make resources available to that person.”
The Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) allows firms to sign to receive alerts on the latest sanctions changes.
The SRA have also issued guidance on balancing duties in litigation, particularly in relation to concerns about strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP). The information also refers to other areas of compliance, such as requirements on anti-money laundering and ceasing to act for clients.
The SRA have also pointed solicitors towards their guidance on balancing duties in litigation.