The answer is yes. Our recent post titled, ‘‘Is Your Law Firm FICA Compliant? Does it make business sense to comply?” received an overwhelming response from lawyers in private practice. Most of the queries raised related to the obligation to appoint a Compliance Officer imposed by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (‘’the Fic Act’’) on accountable institutions.
The Fic Act provides that a Compliance Officer of an accountable institution must be a senior executive of the company, which in the case of law firm (depending on the size thereof) would be the managing partner. A Compliance Officer is required by the Act to execute certain duties and responsibilities in order to ensure that the law firm complies with the FIC Act.
This creates additional work for the managing partner or owner of the firm who is already burdened with other responsibilities associated with their role. Understandably, appointing a Compliance Officer as a full time employee is not often a viable option for many small law firms.
First-Line Consulting provides specialist legal advisory services to various clients including law firms. Managing compliance with the FIC Act is one of their focus areas. First-Line Consulting’s compliance management offering enables law firms to put controls in place in order to:
• identify and verify clients;
• terminate existing relationships with clients (where there is inability to conduct customer due diligence);
• report transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre;
• register with the Financial Intelligence Centre as an accountable institution;
• conduct training and create awareness among staff members on the requirements of the Fic Act.
Law firms are able to choose between the monthly retainer and fixed fee options. The monthly retainer option includes a dedicated Compliance Officer providing ongoing legal support and advice, periodic onsite assessments, compliance audits, training and awareness workshops.
The fixed fee option includes once off specialist legal support and advice as well as training and awareness workshops for staff members.
First-Consulting enables law firms to have a dedicated Compliance Officer as required by the Fic Act without incurring the costs of appointing a full time employee. It is important to note that while First-Line Consulting will provide you with the necessary expertise, the accountability of the law firm as prescribed by the FIC Act remains with the law firm and cannot be transferred.
Please visit www.first-lineconsulting.com to find out more about their service offering.