Solicitors' Accounts Manual

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On 6 October 2011 the biggest change to law firm regulation in decades will come into effect with the introduction of the SRA Handbook. Significant changes have been made to the SRA Accounts Rules, a key part of the SRA Handbook that outlines the requirements in place to protect client money. Staff with financial responsibilities within solicitors' practices will need to prepare in advance of implementation on 6 October to ensure compliance with the revised Rules. The fully updated 12th Edition of the Solicitors' Accounts Manual provides the text of the Rules, taking account of key changes made since June 2009 including: - the stipulated appointment of a new role, the Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (CoFA) - the requirement for firms to have a written policy on the payment of interest to clients to ensure fair and reasonable procedures - clearer delineation between mandatory and explanatory guidance notes - the use of electronic signatures for withdrawals from client accounts and the signing and delivery of bills - greater emphasis on proper governance and the safe-keeping of clients' money - the need for firms to have appropriate systems and controls in place for withdrawals from client accounts - permission for firms to obtain and retain electronic copies of bank statements rather than relying on paper statements - the move from reconciliation every 14 weeks to every 5 weeks. Reflecting the advent of alternative business structures (ABSs), the Rules emphasise that their application is required for activities that are regulated by the SRA.