OCTOBER 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
THE LEGAL QUALITY STANDARD OF IRELAND
OCTOBER 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
ADVISE ON PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
In the autumn edition of The Parchment Niall Cawley offers advises on professional indemnity insurance.
He makes the following recommendations, the following are extracts from same:-
- ‘Prepare your Application Early – We know this is constantly being said but leaving your application until the last-minute leaves you exposed to having to accept whatever terms you are offered.
- The Common Proposal Form – We are strongly recommending that you use the Common Proposal Form. As the 2023 / 2024 form is not yet available, we suggest that you use the draft based on the existing 2022 / 2023 form and then you can update same. One area that you might want to consider is the control systems that you have now put in place for those of you working remotely so that you can satisfy your insurer that you have adequate supervision systems in place as this may come up. Thus, we recommend that you AVOID using the Short Form which is often offered by Insurance Companies. The reasons for this are as follows:
- Sooner or later you will have to use the much longer Common Proposal Form and then the amount of information that you have to collate on an annual basis will be multiplied by the number of years that you have not done it. Once you have it done then all you need to do each year is update the last one.
- If you use the short from, then you are sending a signal to the insurer you are asking a quote from that theirs is the only company that you have gone to. If you find yourself with the short form having gone in and a large quote coming out to you at the last minute you are in a very weak position.
- Using the Common Proposal Form means that you are now free to send your Proposal Form to as many insurers as you want and, frankly, we would suggest that you send it to all of the insurers or at least to all insurers you believe will offer you cover. Check with your broker, if you are using one, as to what firms they work with. There is no point in sending a Proposal Form to a company that is already represented by the broker.’
To view this article in full see https://issuu.com/256media/docs/parchment_autumn_2023-flipbook?e=16581915/97669193
UK RESEARCH ON THE PII MARKET – KEY FINDINGS
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) of the Law Society of England and Wales and the Legal Services Board (LSB) commissioned Frontier Economics to carry out research on their PII market using data already held by them and by surveying nearly 300 firms.
Key findings from the research included:
- The PII premiums paid by law firms in our sample were typically between 3% and 9% of annual turnover, with a median value of 5%.
- 80% of law firms in the sample pay a premium rate of less than 10% of turnover.
- Of the firms paying a higher rate than this, 90% are smaller firms.
It was found smaller law firms pay a higher premium rate as a percentage of their turnover than larger firms, all other things being equal. Firms with a turnover of £765,000 were likely to be paying twice the premium rate as a percentage, when compared to larger law firms with a turnover of £3.2m doing the same work.
Possible reasons for this include:
- Relative sophistication of cyber and wider security arrangements
- Relative ability to absorb losses or to recompense clients from other work
- Insurers potentially being more open to developing bespoke arrangements the higher the overall fee a firm is paying.
Area of work that firms operate in was also a key factor in differing premium ratings:
- Property work typically attracts higher PII premiums equivalent to 8%-12% of turnover – this means the average £900 legal cost for a property transaction includes £70-£120 to cover the PII costs.
- Divorce services typically attract lower PII premiums of 2%-7% – this means the average £815 cost of an uncontested divorce includes £10-£60 to cover PII costs.
Wider factors which they found may contribute to a firm being charged a higher premium rate included:
- firms holding more or variable amounts of client money
- any history of regulatory findings against the firm
- more fee earners and more qualified fee earners per unit turnover.
To view this article see https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/research-publications/professional-indemnity-insurance-market-law-firms/
WARNING NOTICE ISSUED BY SRA (UK) RELATING TO IDENTIFYING AND MANAGING MONEY LAUNDERING RISKS
On the 19 October 2023 the Solicitors Regulatory Authority for England and Wales published a news release titled “Firms have to do more to identify and manage money laundering risks”.
A report on client matter risk assessments found some firms visited were not compliant with the Money Laundering Regulations. The review found that firms are well aware of what is required of them, but aren’t getting it right on the ground, so the SRA have now issued a warning notice on the matter to remind the profession of its obligations.
The news article states “The SRA visited 30 firms and found all but two had a process for client/matter risk assessments. A large portion of the 28 however were only partially compliant with regulations because their process wasn’t properly used. Most firms visited considered client and matter risk together in a single document, but failed to complete them comprehensively. One firm’s assessment of risk was limited to client risk only, and three firms’ risk assessment processes were limited to considering matter specific risks.”
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: ‘Solicitors play a key role in keeping money launderers out of legal services. Assessing, and acting upon the risks posed by work in scope of the money laundering regulations is a vital part of fulfilling that role.’
The SRA also published their annual review of their anti-money laundering work and the common themes include:
- Inadequate risk assessments, policies, controls and procedures
- Inadequate supervision or training
- Most firms’ suspicious activity reports (SARs) were well written
- They submitted 24 SARs to the National Crime Agency with a total value of £75 million
- They took action against 49 firms and individuals
- Value of fines was £137,000
It was stated in the Warning Notice that ‘We continue to see forms that are very basic or tick box in nature, where fee-earners only had to mark whether a file was high risk, medium risk, or low risk. Often, these forms did not have space where the fee-earner could record their justification or any commentary on how they had arrived at a particular level of risk……..…..Without a free text box or space on the risk assessment, fee-earners might also not be able to record unusual or niche aspects about a client or matter……….It is important that the rationale for the risk level and level of due diligence is clearly recorded, along with what actions the fee-earner will take to mitigate those risks.’
To view this news release with links to the Warning Notice and Report see https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/news/press/client-matter-thematic/
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND MANAGE A CYBERSECURITY BREACH AND DATA PROTECTION BREACH
In the October edition of the Law Society Gazette, Jeanne Kelly in an article titled ‘Head in the Sand?’ offers her insights to Tanya Moeller and Deborah Leonard on the following:-
- How do you identify a cybersecurity breach,
- How do you identify a data-protection breach,
- What is difference between the 2 aforementioned breaches,
- Breaches and technical steps,
- Engaging a Pro,
- Who are you going to call,
- Dealing with claims,
- Do I pay a ransom,
- Sharing is caring,
- Supplier breaches,
- Employee breaches,
- GDPR five years on
UNDERTAKINGS REGARDING LAND REGISTRY QUERIES
In the October edition of the Law Society Gazette, the Conveyancing Committee have issued a practice note on ‘Undertakings re Land Registry Queries’
Practitioners are reminded that general condition 25 of the Law Society’s Conditions of Sale provides that, in cases where the sale of unregistered land triggers an obligation on the purchaser to compulsorily register the title post completion, the vendor shall, if requested within six years after the completion of the sale and at the expense of the purchaser:
1) Supply any additional information the vendor may reasonably be able to supply, and
2) Produce and furnish any documents in the vendor’s possession that may be required to effect the first registration.
Unless general condition 25 has been amended to remove this obligation, the committee considers that it is not necessary for the purchaser to require the vendor to provide an undertaking to assist with Land Registry queries, and such undertakings should not be sought.
To view this practice note see https://www.lawsociety.ie/globalassets/documents/gazette/gazette-pdfs/gazette-2023/october-2023-gazette.pdf#page=62
WELLBEING – SOME PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TOWARDS DISMANTLING STRESS FACTORS
On the 24 October 2023 the Law Society of Scotland’s website published a wellbeing blog titled ‘How to stop being stressed to nines’. It sets out four practical strategies towards dismantling the factors enabling stress.
Freeze out your woolly mammoth – One of the biggest stressors in a work situation is that activity that you never get round to. Not the tasks you most dislike but the one you never do. These tasks take up mental space and capacity, when you’re reminded of them your stress levels increase.
Hop to your hardest task – By prioritising and conquering the most important tasks early, you not only build momentum but also reduce procrastination and stress, ultimately leading to increased productivity and a sense of accomplishment. Ensure you have set clear goals to achieve for the day, create a to-do list based on these goals and put the hardest thing at the top. Then of course do the activities in that order.
Time to become a ghost buster – Ghosts are the former colleagues who have left your company but their legacy often continues to influence decision-making or work-based activities that haven’t been reviewed for their appropriateness since they left.
Putting your thoughts on trial – This is the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy technique that is focused on examining thoughts, particularly those pervasive and potentially irrational thoughts that occur when stressed. It’s akin to a mental courtroom, where these thoughts are scrutinized and subjected to evidence-based questioning.
The above are just extracts so to view this article in full see https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/blogs-opinions/how-to-stop-being-stressed-to-the-nines/