In the role of a COFA you must “take all reasonable steps” to proactively prevent breaches of the SRA regulations.
Therefore, you should have instigated systems and procedures to ensure that your firm is compliant with this new approach.
The following questions may help as an aide memoire:
Is your software adequate to cope with the needs of your firm, i.e. does it:-
- provide all partners with regular full financial information including office account bank balances?
- assist you with case management?
- provide an efficient time recording and billing system?
Do you liaise regularly with your counterpart COLP to perform regular file reviews, monitor undertakings, and log or report any breaches?
- Can you differentiate between material and non-material breaches?
- Do you have adequate cover for illness, holidays or other absences?
- Do all fee earners understand the need to check their clients’ account balances regularly to clear any balances that appear to be no longer required?
- Have you put adequate systems in place to clear or donate old client balances?
- Do you provide adequate training for all your staff to make them aware of SRA accounts rules?
- Have you put into place credit control policies to show that cash-flow targets are a key priority for your fee earners?
- Finally, have you put measures in place to build up a capital reserve from profits?