The Practical Lawyer


Client account – interest

The money earned by solicitors on general client accounts has plummeted in recent years as interest rates have fallen. Many are therefore looking at alternatives, such as Treasury deposit accounts.

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Solicitors – which regulator

Solicitors’ regulation by the SRA goes far beyond what would strictly be necessary to deal with the regulation of ‘reserved activities’. Hence, we are now seeing interest from law firms in being regulated by bodies other than the SRA. For instance, ILEX Professional Standards (the regulatory arm of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) says it has been approached by several firms wanting to change regulators. At the same time, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is now a regulator for probate activities. One assumes that this growth in parallel regulators may indirectly lead to the SRA streamlining some of its existing procedures to make them more customer-friendly.

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Residual balances – £500

Solicitors can now, at their discretion, pay up to £500 of a residual balance to a charity without seeking authorisation from the SRA. The previous limit was £50.

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Professional – update

The SRA’s mySRA system for the online renewal of practising certificates has been much criticised. The good news is that it is to be replaced with new technology, and the hope is that the new system will be far less complex and time consuming for users. [2014] LSG 24 November 1.

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Incorporation – tax changes

In recent years, incorporation has overtaken partnership as the most popular way of practising for solicitors. Often this is done for tax motives, but it is important to note that two important tax changes are being introduced that will significantly reduce the fiscal advantages of incorporation.

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IFA – ABS or JV?

The drive to multi-disciplinary professional practices continues. However, there are important regulatory problems for alternative business structures (ABS), and these have discouraged the adoption of integrated business models. As a result, the halfway house of a joint venture (JV) with independent financial advisors (IFAs) has become popular.

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Conveyancing – breach of trust damages

A solicitor acted for the borrower and the lending bank on a remortgage worth £3.3m. 

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Accounts – breaches

Some simple advice on how to avoid the two most common accounts breaches:

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Dishonest client – your liability?

What happens if you knowingly act for a fraudster; are you then liable to your client’s victim?

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Document storage – costs

The High Court recently ordered ‘a search through very large quantities of often unorganised material held by three firms as the result of five years of litigation which is being conducted on all sides by means of the forensic equivalent of trench warfare’.

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