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law society

The Law Society of England and Wales has, since the early 1990s, fought a rear-guard action against the engagement of solicitors in counter-money laundering efforts. The Regulator, which was first a division of the Law Society and then spun off to become a ludicrously politically charged enforcer of any passing social fad had, at that time the correct view that solicitors were within the scope of the original Money Laundering Regulations. At last, the regulator, now known as the Solicitors (sic) Regulatory Authority (it's so trendy it doesn't use an apostrophe where its name demands one) has decided that money laundering is something it needs to pay attention to. The Law Society is on a war footing, declaring the SRA's action "an assault."

It's pathetic: according to a report in The Law Society's Gazette, the official publication of the Law Society of England and Wales, "The Legal Sector Affinity Group, whose members include the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, has told the Treasury that a ‘sensible supervisory approach’ to the new regulations would give firms and individuals time to adjust to their new obligations." Apparently the membership body and the regulator haven't had time to prepare their Guidance. Too busy with finding new crazy obligations to impose on an already over-stretched profession, one might conclude.

It's probably not a great idea for me, an English solicitor (retired) to be publicly harsh about my professional body. But, seriously, is the Law Society of England and Wales contrary or comatose? It really just does not "get" money laundering risks and its latest attempt to update its guidance demonstrates that its attitude is, simply, retarded.

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