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Day: 31 March 2020

Supervising Remotely

Effective supervision has always been important from a risk management perspective but never more so than now, with many staff working remotely, some for the first time and having to grapple with new technology and processes.

As it is a requirement of the SRA Code of Conduct for firms to have in place an effective system for supervising client matters, most firms will already have policies and processes in place. However, these processes will need to be reviewed to ensure that they are still workable and effective in light of the remote working and different hours that some staff may be working to fit in around childcare and home schooling. When reviewing supervision processes consideration should be given to the following key areas:

Experience of Staff: The staff that are being supervised and their qualifications and level of experience. For example, qualified experienced Solicitors will not need as much day to day supervision or quality checking as a Paralegal or Trainee Solicitor.

Communication: Good clear communication is key as, in the office, some supervision happens informally as Supervisors can overhear a telephone conversation when someone is struggling or can be approached for a quick sense check of a matter that a member of their team is unsure about or they need clarification about a query they have received from a client.

It is important that good communication continues between a Supervisor and their team to ensure a high level of work and effectiveness is maintained as well as staff morale. Consideration should be given to weekly team meetings and one on one meetings being held via Skype or Zoom. Dates and times for these meetings should be agreed in advance and put in everyone’s diaries so staff can plan their work and appointments around them. An Agenda should be prepared in advance so all staff know what is going to be discussed and what they need to bring and prepare. This will ensure that these meetings are as productive as possible and valuable time is not wasted.

File Surgeries: Allocating a file surgery day each week can also be an efficient and effective way of ensuring that matters can be supervised and allow both the Supervisor and team members to plan and manage their time and work effectively. Staff should be informed of a timeline by which they need to email and confirm to their Supervisor the issues they wish to discuss at the file surgery meeting together with the name and file number of the matter if applicable. The Supervisor should then acknowledge receipt and allocate a time slot to their team member on the allocated file surgery day for the matter to be discussed over the telephone.

File Reviews: It is important that these reviews continue as these are a very effective way of supervising and of being able to identify any potential issues that could turn into a claim or a complaint if not dealt with. Consideration should be given as to whether the number of file reviews undertaken needs to be increased for some staff. It should be noted that file reviews can also help identify any other office processes and policies which may need to be reviewed and amended as a result of people working remotely.

Checking of Work: Supervisors should inform their team on the process for the checking of work before it is sent to clients. Confirmation should be given to each team member of the process that needs to be followed and when the Supervisor will need to receive the work by together with the timescale for them reviewing the work and returning it. This will help staff be able to effectively manage key dates and timelines as well as client’s expectations.

If you would like any help reviewing or preparing a Supervision Policy, then please email us at hello@tealcompliance.com.

What is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and how do I know if my client is one?!

With the SRA expecting solicitors and firms to continue to meet the high standards the public expect (which includes upholding the rule of law), it is important to ensure that all staff are aware of their obligations when onboarding clients and, with most staff currently working remotely, now is a good time to remind them.

On a number of occasions, I have seen panic set in as soon as someone sees the words “match” for their client on a PEP screening request. But there’s no need to panic! Just because someone is classified as a PEP does not necessarily mean they are a “baddie”!

So, what is a PEP and why are they considered high risk?

A PEP is a person who is or, within the last year, has been a:

Head of State/Government, Minister, Assistant Minister or MPMember of judiciaryMember of Courts of Auditors, or of Boards of central BanksAmbassador or high-ranking officer in the armed forcesMember of administrative management or supervisory bodies of state-owned enterprisesMember of governing body of a political partyBoard of an international organisation (for e.g. FIFA)

In addition, a person will also be classified as a PEP if they are:

A member of a PEP’s familyA known close associate of a PEP (whom the PEP is in business with)A beneficial owner of the PEP’s property (someone who enjoys the benefits of ownership even though the title of the property is in another person’s name)

PEPs are deemed high risk because they generally present a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption due to their position and the influence that they may hold. Therefore, the main aim of applying Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) to work involving PEPs is to mitigate the risk that the proceeds of bribery and corruption may be laundered. PEPs are also easy targets for identity theft due to a great deal of their personal information being publicly available.

The best way to check whether someone is a PEP is through PEP screening solutions online – many firms already have electronic verification which will normally include PEP screening as part of the checks that are carried out. Some online screening solutions will also provide additional information, such as adverse media and any criminal conduct – a good way to check whether your PEP is a “baddie” or not! Don’t forget Google, it is amazing what information you might find from a Google search.

Regulation 33 (1)(d) of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017) states that EDD is required in situations where the client is a PEP, or a family member or known close associate of a PEP. Therefore, it is important to establish whether or not your client is a PEP at the outset.

In addition, under Regulation 35 of the MLR 2017, if your client is a PEP you must:

get senior management approval for the business relationshiptake adequate measures to establish the source of wealth and source of fundsclosely monitor the business relationship throughout

If you need any assistance when dealing with PEPs please get in touch and we would be happy to help. Drop us an email at hello@tealcompliance.com.