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22 March 2020

Regulation (Professional Conduct) Department Operations

The Regulation (Professional Conduct) Department has reviewed how we will carry out our regulatory functions at this time, in a way designed to avoid imposing unnecessary burdens on members and firms.

Queries

Members are able to raise queries in respect of Regulation and Professional Conduct via secure email at either enquiry@lawsoc-ni.org or regulation@lawsoc-ni.org.  Please address your query for the attention of the Regulation (Professional Conduct) Department.

Inspections

Until further notice, the Department’s inspection activity will be conducted by way of off-site Desk Top Reviews.  This will not be as in-depth as actual inspections and is likely to include some follow-up correspondence with firms.  Where an issue comes to light requiring urgent attention, the Desk Top Review may lead to a subsequent full inspection of the firm.  The Society’s Compliance Officers will contact principals directly should this be necessary.

Solicitors Accountants’ Reports:

The timeframe in which independent statutory Reporting Accountants’ Reports must be delivered to the Society will be extended by three (3) months from the date on which the report should otherwise be delivered.  This applies to Reports due to be delivered in either March and April 2020 and suspends the requirement for statutory reporting Accountants to attend firms during the relevant period.  If the statutory reporting accountant delivers a report without having attended the firm, their report will be qualified. A report delivered in such circumstances will be regarded as interim only, until such time as the statutory reporting accountant has been able to conduct an inspection fully in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2014. 

The statutory reporting accountant’s report may be delivered electronically to the Law Society via secure email. The full report should be provided to the Society by no later than 31 August 2020. This time limit will be kept under review given the present circumstances. 

Firms are of course able to apply to the Department for an extension of time should it becomes necessary to do so.  In such a case, the principal should write in to the Society with reasons for the extension.

Third Party/Inter Professional Complaints

The Department will continue to receive third party or inter professional complaints. Solicitors who wish to make a complaint are encouraged to correspond with the Society via secure email.  If a solicitor sends hard copy documents or papers to the Society please send a copy via email where possible.  If you are only able to send hard copy documents or papers, unfortunately there may be a delay in your complaint being acknowledged or processed.

LEXCEL

Where members seek to apply for or renew LEXCEL accreditation, please correspond with the Department through the email addresses provided.



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