Category Archives: Thought leadership

Anti-money laundering – When and how to submit a suspicious activity report

Money laundering is a worldwide crime that is estimated to total over $2 trillion annually. In the past 20 years, laws have been put in place in the UK to crack down on this crime. This includes Client Due Diligence (CDD) procedures your firm must follow to ensure that your firm is not assisting in money laundering activities. When staff or businesses witness any suspicious activity, they are required to submit a suspicious activity report (SAR). Here is a short guide to what a SAR consists of and how to submit one.

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The SRA Standards and Regulations – What are the key changes?

The SRA Handbook will be replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations in November this year. The SRA has worked closely with the profession and the public to develop their proposals over the last four years, engaging with more than 35,000 people. The changes are set to modernise both SRA regulation and the legal market.

The key changes to the SRA Handbook to be aware of:

  1. Reduction in number of principles – Where the previous Handbook contained 10 Principles with accompanying notes, the SRA Standards and Regulations are constructed around seven principles which apply outside as well as inside practices. The principle to act in the best interest of the client has not changed, but a new principle of honesty has been added. The onus is now on you to interpret the Principles and use your better judgement as opposed to rigidly interpreting a narrow set of examples.
  2. Separate, Shortened Codes of Conduct – The previous Code of Conduct was too long, confusing and complicated, blurring the lines between individual and entity responsibilities. Therefore, it has been replaced with one Code of Conduct for individuals, and a separate Code of Conduct for firms. This will also make it easier for consumers to understand. The separate codes will also ensure a clear distinction between the expectations of individuals and those of the expectations of firms. The indicative behaviours which appeared in previous codes have been removed.
  3. Simplified Accounts Rules – The Accounts Rules introduced by the SRA Standards and Regulations have been simplified and contain a different definition of client money. They also include rules on the use of third-party managed accounts. The Accounts Rules are less prescriptive than previous rules which were overly complex; they focus on the key objective of safeguarding client money. Firms are still required to keep client money separate from firm money and ensure client money is only used for its intended purposes.
  4. Changes to the Insurance Distribution Directive – There is a new explicit requirement that all insurance contracts proposed must be consistent with the client’s demands and needs. Furthermore, if you advise on a certain product then you must provide a personalised recommendation explaining how the product recommended best meets the client’s needs.
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New release – Tax Evasion Knowledge Check

Tax evasion knowledge check screenshot

Users get instant feedback on their answer to each question

Tax evasion continues to be a concern for many European firms. To ensure that your employees remained trained and up to date, VinciWorks has just released a five-minute knowledge check on tax evasion prevention. Knowledge Checks consist of different scenarios to help employees understand which course of action to take in different situations. This knowledge check is part of VinciWorks’ tax evasion training suite which includes the latest course, Tax Evasion: Failure to Prevent and can also be purchased alone.

The five-minute knowledge check covers:

  • Examples of tax evasion
  • Which types of transactions are considered tax evasion
  • The requirements of the Criminal Finances Act
  • Examples of facilitation of tax evasion
  • What is meant by “reasonable procedures” under the Criminal Finances Act

VinciWorks’ Knowledge Check series

VinciWorks’ knowledge checks allow businesses to verify and assess your staff’s knowledge of key compliance areas. We are always adding new knowledge checks and we even have an option for businesses to create their own.

Modern Slavery Act 2015 review – How close are we to a slavery-free Britain?

Human trafficking victim with a sign saying she's not for sale

Frank Field MP, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Maria Miller MP have recently completed a review of the operation and effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) and to recommend improvements commissioned by the Home Office. With the full report yet to be published, we take a look at the effectiveness of The Act.

If a recent independent review of the Modern Slavery Act is anything to go by, the answer would be not very close at all. Today, it is believed that there are still over 21 million slaves in the world, with around 10,000 in the UK alone (although this number is believed to be much higher. This includes sex trafficking victims, child workers and sweatshop employees. In many countries where slavery is prevalent, it is difficult for law enforcement to stop such crime. It is therefore important that companies step up and are more proactive in their efforts to stop this horrible and inhumane crime.

Is the Modern Slavery Act helping to solve the problem?

With the UK government increasing its efforts through increased spend and more resources going towards arresting and prosecuting offenders annually, it’s clear that The Act has played an important role in reducing the number of modern slaves in the UK. The government spent around £39 million in 2017/18 and £61 million in 2018/19 on modern slavery and in 2017, the total number of arrests for modern slavery offences was 131, almost twice the number from the previous period. That number is expected to rise in the 2018/19 period, with members of a gang thought to have around 400 victims recently sentenced to jail.

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British Airways data breach – GDPR fines may reach new heights

British Airways plane

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announces its intention to fine British Airways for a data breach under GDPR

The ICO have just published its Notice of Intent to fine British Airways £183.39 million for infringements of the security principle of GDPR. The breach was disclosed by the airline back in  September 2018.

While the ICO has merely published its intention and no actual fine has been imposed, the fact that the ICO has published a Notice of Intent suggests that it has enough evidence of the breach to keep British Airways on the hook.

The ICO’s investigation found that a variety of information was compromised by poor security arrangements at the company, including login, payment card, and travel booking details, as well as the name and address of customers.

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All SRA Standards and Regulations Changes approved by LSB

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has granted all the amendments to the Standards and Regulations proposed by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA). The new set of rules which will replace the current SRA Handbook are set to come into force on 25 November 2019.

The main changes to the previous draft Standards and Regulations concern the expectations of a COLP or COFA when disclosing a serious breach in a law firm. The changes mean that the ability to report a breach will be much earlier than currently set out in the SRA Handbook.

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SRA Standards and Regulations training – new course to be released soon

Central London

The SRA Handbook is being replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations, which will be in force from November 2019.

The new focus of the SRA Standards and Regulations is on each legal professional being able to justify their actions in all work that they carry out. For many legal professionals, including partners, managers, solicitors and support staff, this will require a significant change in approach. Legal professionals often only consider their professional obligations when a conflict of interest arises. However, the new SRA Standards and Regulations emphasise that legal professionals must be able to demonstrate compliance at all times.

To help firms prepare for the new regulations, VinciWorks will soon be releasing a suite of courses. The courses dynamically create a personalised learning experience based on an individual’s role in a law firm. This ensures everyone taking the course will learn what they need to know, and not waste time reviewing areas irrelevant to their practice.

The courses will help legal professionals, including support staff, to develop an understanding of the relevant SRA regulations which apply to their specific role in the law firm. SRA: Standards and Regulations ensures that all employees of an SRA regulated law firm who have a legal obligation to follow the SRA Standards and Regulations have sufficient knowledge to stay compliant.

Register for SRA training updates and get a discount code

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Coming soon – Occupational health and safety training package

Occupational Health and Safety at Work course screenshot

“The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires all businesses in the UK to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of employees.”

Despite the legal requirement, health and safety training has a bad reputation. Most people working in an office don’t want to do it, and won’t think about it much again. VinciWorks is currently developing a new OHS course designed to make training more engaging and relevant to the user’s workplace.

Health and Safety for Office Workers

VinciWorks’ Health and Safety for Office Workers course delivers short, interactive health and safety training units which are customised to the specific office they work in by default. Gone are the endless slides that bear little to no relevance to a person’s working environment. Health and Safety for Office Workers provides all the health and safety information in one place.

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Regulatory Agenda – June 2019

Keeping up with new regulations can be very challenging and time-consuming. Regulators expect companies to identify and react to all regulations that have an impact on their firms. This can be very tricky, but VinciWorks has your back.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, VinciWorks has published a regulatory agenda with an overview of recent changes and a regulatory horizon with topics on the agenda.

The agenda covers

  • E.U. Developments
  • Acts of Parliament
  • Consultations
  • Bills before Parliament
  • Manifesto Commitments

We have created this resource to help break down new and emerging regulations to help you and your company comply with the ever-changing laws. Feel free to Regulatory agenda for June 2019 to ensure you are up to date on the latest information on UK regulations.

DAC6 – Category E: Specific transfer pricing hallmarks

Last May, the European Union created the 6th Directive on Administrative Cooperation (the “DAC6”). Under this new law tax intermediaries are required to report certain cross-border arrangements that contain at least one of the hallmarks as defined in DAC6.

DAC6 contains five different hallmark categories that represent an indication that a transaction may have a potential risk of tax avoidance.

This blog will focus on the category E hallmarks which are classified as generic hallmarks, and may include one of the following:

1. Unilateral Harbour Rules – Arrangements involving unilateral safe harbour rules.

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