In response to allegations from the Treasury’s consultation on inadequate measures on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing, Law Society England and Wales claimed that the lawyers are upholding government regulatory authorities’ standards to prevent illicit financial activities.
The treasury consultation threatened the government to regulate lawyers’ firms. It urged the attorneys to adequately comply with the AML regulations in order to protect the integrity of the country’s financial ecosystem. In response to these allegations, the UK’s Law Society England and Wales claimed all the professional solicitors comply with national standards CFT/AML solutions and uphold the beyond-the-limit requirements, which they are not subject to. Nick Emmerson, the Law Society of England and Wales president, stated, “The solicitors’ profession is fully committed to tackling illicit finance and money laundering. This is demonstrated by the significant resources allocated to complying with its AML and financial crime obligations.”
He also emphasized the vital role of customer and business verification for the government representative bodies, financial institutes and law enforcement. According to the Society’s President, the Law Society of England and Wales is committed to ensuring that solicitors remain vigilant and proactive in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The Law Society will continue collaborating with the government representative bodies to ensure that solicitors meet their AML obligations. Emmerson stated, “The AML regime is highly complex, and it is vital for representative bodies, such as the Law Society, to be able to help draft and contribute to legal sector-wide guidance. We are concerned that legal sector-specific expertise could be lost in the current proposals, meaning the AML supervisory regime would be less, rather than more, effective in the short to medium term.”
Emmerson stated against the latest model proposed by the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) to strengthen the UK’s AML policies, “Giving OPBAS additional powers is unlikely to address the ongoing failings of the current supervisory regime, particularly around fragmentation and lack of consistency. There must be a greater focus on the overall effectiveness of the regime and outcomes rather than tick-box compliance, which satisfies overly prescriptive requirements.”
Furthermore, he also claimed that the reforms in the AML regulations would be effective but damage the sole law firms. The UK’s law societies, such as England and Wales Law Society, can comply with these rigid regulations because of the robust verification process, which is challenging for other independent attorneys. He asserted, “Reforming the supervisory regime will play an essential role in achieving an effective AML regime, but it will only go so far without addressing the broader regulations that underpin the regime. A significant proportion of the money-laundering regulations (MLRs) are relevant to the financial sector. Consequently, the MLRs are demanding and difficult to implement across the legal profession.”