The reach of regulatory law, controlling and informing the practices of professionals and the operation of businesses is extensive and ever-evolving, becoming more complex and widespread every year despite repeated government promises to withdraw the red-tape that is lowering productivity and increasing business cost. Changes in the financial industry, for example with the Senior Managers’ Regime and Certification Regime, operates to extend the reach of financial regulation yet further and add yet another layer of red-tape on business.
Professional Investigations:As a busy professional, perhaps running your own practice or working across the legal, financial, and other private sectors, or the NHS it is often difficult to find the time to give adequate consideration to the regulatory and other legal requirements placed upon you. If you are a member of a professional body, whether surveyor, doctor, nurse, dentist, osteopath, lawyer, accountant, etc you may find yourself facing complaint or under investigation at some point in your career from your professional body. As specialist professional disciplinary and regulatory solicitor advocates, we provide the best support available via our <Professional Practice & Negligence unit>.
Our regulatory team has in depth knowledge of the regulatory requirements imposed on professionals and businesses in all sectors, including health and social care, financial, legal and professional services. Clients seek advice from us in order to ensure that their businesses and practices are compliant with prevailing regulatory (and other legal) requirements, preferring this approach to this risks associated with taking legal advice only when responding to an enquiry into a suspected transgression.
Many professionals fear that their regulator will take enforcement action for any identified breach of regulatory requirements, but when responded to correctly, many professional regulators, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the General Medical Council or the Financial Conduct Authority, will consider all matters that come to their attention which may affect their decision to have licensed or registered a professional. With the right considered response, they will take a proportionate and risk based approach to enforcement action so that not every rule breach is career limiting.
Similarly with the increase in Ombudsmen services, many of which are poorly trained, we are seeing an increased number of unsustainable and incorrect decisions and we assist businesses in appropriately responding to regulators to overturn attitudes and decisions.
The information disclosure obligations on professionals and the regulated organisations often brings a conflict with rules and ethical standards or insurance cover conditions that preclude cover in the event of admissions of liability or wrongdoing. The consequences of inaction can often be as serious as the disclosable event itself and is a common reason that causes clients to take legal advice.
Our regulatory and public law specialists provide advice on all areas of regulatory compliance, including:
- How to respond to an investigation or allegation brought by your regulator
- How to respond to the discovery of circumstances leading to repeated complaints
- When to carry out regulatory self-referral following possible breaches of technical standards
- How to adequately protect the personal data held by your organisation (See GDPR Pages)
- How to respond to data breaches (See GDPR Pages)
- How to adequately protect digital systems and cybersecurity obligations (See Tech Pages)
- How to best respond to complaints about service provision
- How to ensure your organisation is Equality and Diversity compliant
We are also conscious that, the public pronouncements, following a disclosable event may be disasterous and the consequences of this can be seen in recent cases where multi-nationals public responses to an event have caused reputational damage doing far beyond the direct event damage. Our lawyers have P.R. training and can often see opportunities to take problematic events and put a positive pro-RP spin on them.
When providing technical compliance advice, we also have an eye to the practical application of the law and how it will impact our client’s particular circumstances and reputation (including damage limitation and reputational strengthening) and our lawyers are aware that if there is more than one route to compliance, then business interests will often dictate the path we advise should be taken. We provide prompt, clear and insightful advice to enable a carefully considered decision to be reached in relation to compliance, disclosure and linked employment advice and how to maintain reputations.
Our clients know that in this global age, reputation is everything. With the increased public awareness of the importance of data protection and the need for improved cyber security, professionals and businesses come to us to take advice on how to comply with the data protection legislation and prevent an intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office and the consequent reputational damage.
Financial services regulation is ever-changing and complex, with firms having to allocate increased resources and costs to meet their compliance obligations and ensuring that company procedures are fully compliant is critical to avoid further costs and sanctions.
We can assist with the following:
- Applying for authorisation or variation of permissions
- Approved person applications (which may be contested by the FCA)
- Advice on approved person fit and proper issues such as conduct and disciplinary matters, approval refusal, disclosure of criminal convictions and completion of Forms A-D
- Supervision notification and reporting obligations
- FCA Handbook rules and breaches
- Customer complaint handling including Financial Ombudsman Service (‘FOS’) complaints
- CASS compliance and rule breaches
- Mis-selling and unsuitable advice concerns
- Preparing senior management members for interview by the FCA or another investigating body
- Advice regarding s166 skilled person report
- Perimeter and regulated activity (RAO) guidance
- Anti-money laundering controls and financial crime compliance and POCA obligations