Helping you prosper

Solicitors – Role of the compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA)

As a COFA, you must take all reasonable steps to:

  • ensure that your firm and its manager and employees comply with any obligations imposed upon them under the Accounts Rules,
  • ensure that a prompt report is made to the SRA of any serious breach of the Accounts Rules.

Part of the role as COFA is to ensure that the firm keeps a breach register and evidence of review by the COFA. The breach register is a key tool for any COFA to identify where things have gone wrong and whether there any systematic problems inherent in your firm’s processes.

A breach register for the firm should contain the following information:

  • date the breach occurred, discovered and was corrected,
  • amount involved,
  • rule number breached – this helps to see if there is a pattern of breaches and to pick up any systematic errors,
  • details of how the breach occurred,
  • person responsible,
  • details of whether the breach was reported and if not the rationale of why the breach has not been reported,
  • steps taken to ensure it cannot occur again.

There is an obligation to report material breaches to the SRA and guidance on how to report is on the SRA website.

COFA controls

Review and sign monthly formal client account reconciliations;

  • The accounts rules only refer to the client account reconciliations but there is an expectation that the office account reconciliations are prepared in the same way and at the same time.
  • Daily reviews of any overdrawn client ledgers
  • Daily reviews office credit balances
  • Regular reviews of the client matter listings looking out for the following:
    • Residual balances
    • Suspense ledgers
    • Miscellaneous matters
    • Matters with unusual narrative.

The next step

For more information, get in touch with Kimberly Simmons at k.simmons@uhy-uk.com or via 0161 236 6936

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