You will be aware that the new Notaries Practice Rules 2019 which were made on 3rd September came into force on the 2nd December this year. These bring in changes designed to provide enhanced transparency around costs, services and redress/complaints information following the recommendations made by the CMA in their report on competition in the legal sector in late 2016. The Rules set out the information which must now be given to clients at the outset of a matter and information which must appear on any website which you operate in relation to:
- the basis upon which you calculate the fees for your services (price information);
- a brief outline of the services which you provide (both reserved legal activities and other legal activities) setting out the key stages of the work (if more than one) and the normal timescales for each key stage (service information);
- the level of insurance which your carry under your professional indemnity policy (redress information);
- confirmation that you are covered by a formal complaints procedure in the event that a client is dissatisfied with the service provided and an explanation of how to make such a complaint (complaint information); and
- confirmation that you are ‘Regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury’ (regulatory information).
Early in the new year, we will be undertaking a review of websites to ensure that they comply with the new rules and will write to individuals where there is non-compliance giving a further period to make the required changes. The inspectors will also be ensuring compliance with the new Rules as part of the 2020 inspection round. The CMA has indicated that it will be undertaking a review of the progress which the Legal Sector have made against its recommendations in the second half of 2020.
You also need to be aware that on 10th January 2020 the 5th Money Laundering Directive is due to be transposed into UK Law and we anticipate revised Money Laundering Regulations and Legal Sector Guidance. A guide to the key changes will be issued as soon as possible. In the meantime, please stay alert to news on the implementation of the 5th Money Laundering Directive. The Directive can be accessed here.
Finally, the Legal Services Board has recently completed the latest round of its Regulatory Performance reporting which measures the Approved Regulators’ progress against 26 individual measures under five categories. The latest report, published today, can be accessed here. We are pleased to note that the assessment continues to show that the Faculty Office is making progress against the various measures and we will be taking steps early in the new year to address the shortcomings identified where the LSB feel that we are not making sufficiently rapid changes, particularly around the transparency of our regulatory decision making.
It only remains for me to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
With kind regards
Office of the Court of Faculties