As prescribed by the SRA, a COLP must, amongst other duties, take all reasonable steps to:
• Ensure compliance by the firm and its managers and employees with the SRA’s regulatory regime.
• Ensure that the firm's managers, and those they employ or contract with, do not cause or substantially contribute to a breach of the regulatory regime.
• Ensure that a prompt report is made to the SRA of any serious breach of the terms and conditions of the firm's authorisation, or the regulatory arrangements which apply to the firm, its managers or employees.
At CooperBurnett, the COLP is Partner Victoria Sampson, and she says:
“In the current situation, there are so many aspects of how we do our work which have had to change and, in my role as COLP, I prioritise keeping our team safe, while making sure we comply with our regulatory requirements.”
During this time, the SRA expects solicitors and firms to ‘continue to meet the high standards the public expects’. The SRA recognises, though, that these are ‘exceptional circumstances and the coming months could present particularly challenging issues’. According to the SRA ‘we must all remain pragmatic’.
“Here at CooperBurnett we had a crisis management plan in place but the situation thrown up by Covid-19 was, as much discussed, unprecedented,” says Victoria. “Our team has pulled together in an amazing fashion and has had to adapt to remote working, while only seeing clients when absolutely necessary, such as when signing Wills (practising social distancing at all times, of course). We have supported clients while Wills have been witnessed in front drives and signed on dustbin lids. Our Private Client team are regarded as keyworkers in this instance.”
In keeping compliant, the office support team at CooperBurnett has been invaluable in making sure that those team members working from home have the tools to do so efficiently, safely and are working in the best interests of our clients.
“We are so grateful to our support team for enabling us to work remotely during this period with the minimum of disruption to everyone, maintaining client confidentiality at all times,” says Victoria. “We have been particularly mindful of security, especially concerning our technology.”
She continues: “At the centre of all this is communication. We have always strived to communicate effectively with our clients and we are continuing to do this. Flexibility and adaptability in this current situation is vital. As our COLP here at CooperBurnett, I am continuing to make sure we are compliant and our team and clients are completely supported.”