The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reminded lawyers of their obligations in light of new financial sanctions.
The report comes after the UK Government imposed far-reaching sanctions on Russian assets.
According to the SRA, all law firms in scope of the regulations “must have appropriate policies in place to ensure they comply with sanctions legislation” – such as undertaking regular checks of sanctions lists.
Under the sanctions regime, law firms are not allowed to do business or act for listed individuals, entities, or ships or deal with funds subject to an asset freeze.
It means solicitors should check the financial sanctions list before facilitating transactions or undertaking services for clients to avoid fines or even criminal prosecution.
Commenting on the notice, the SRA said: “Law firms have responsibilities under this regime to safeguard the UK and protect the reputation of the legal services industry. Breaching the financial sanctions requirements can result in criminal prosecution or a fine.”
The regulator added: “There are some exemptions for which firms can seek a licence from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI). These include reasonable fees for the provision of legal advice. OFSI will judge whether the fees are reasonable.”
More information on the financial sanctions regime can be found here.
Click here to access the most up to date list of sanctions.
For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our Specialist Accountants for Solicitors.