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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

SRA: extra vigilance required in face of covid-heightened risks

SRA: extra vigilance required in face of covid-heightened risks


The regulator has warned law firms to be more vigilant than ever in the face of key risks in the covid-19 climate 

The regulator has warned firms to be “more vigilant than ever” in the face of key risks in the covid-19 climate.

The warning comes as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released its latest risk outlook (2020/2021) which highlights that money laundering and cybercrime attacks increased during the first half of 2020.

During the first two months of lockdown there was more than a three-fold increase in phishing scams and the SRA warned of similar spikes likely as covid vaccines come online.

According to the SRA, in the first half of this year firms reported to it that nearly £2.5m of money held by firms had been stolen by cybercriminals, more than three times the amount reported in the first half of 2019.

The regulator predicted a further risk in these areas further into 2021.  

This year’s risk outlook also includes information on Brexit and its implications.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip said: “The covid-19 pandemic has presented real challenges for all of us and how we work.”

He commented that it will take some time for the implications to be fully understood, but it is “already clear that the pandemic has also exacerbated many of the wider, day-to-day risks faced by law firms and their clients”. 

“While none of us can predict exactly what 2021 will bring”, he added, “we know that by considering likely risks, identifying where they may be vulnerable and planning accordingly, firms can take preventative action.”

He encouraged firms and lawyers to read the risk outlook and take any necessary action.

The SRA also identified protecting client money, diversity in the profession and standards of service as priority risks, along with maintaining integrity and ethics and ensuring legal needs are met.