Compliance officer for finance and administration—COFA—authorisation and disqualification
Compliance officer for finance and administration—COFA—authorisation and disqualification

The following Practice Compliance guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Compliance officer for finance and administration—COFA—authorisation and disqualification
  • Terminology
  • Authorisation process
  • Deemed approval
  • Granting and withdrawing approval
  • Disqualification

This Practice Note discusses the approval process all prospective compliance officers for finance and administration (COFAs) must go through to be approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to take up this role, including the requirement to satisfy the SRAs Suitability Test.

Approval can be subject to conditions on the firm’s license.

Terminology

The primary legislation and SRA Handbook differ regarding:

  1. which type of firm is required to appoint a COFA, and

  2. the title of this role

LSA 2007 requires ABSs to appoint a Head of finance and administration (HOFA), but there is no corresponding statutory requirement for solicitor practices.

The SRA has an important changes when implementing the legislation—the title has changed to from Head of Finance & Administration (HOFA) to Compliance Officer for Finance & Administration (COFA):

Authorisation process

The obligation to obtain approval of the COFA falls on the firm. Qualified solicitors do not have the benefit of automatic approval.

The application is made by the firm and must include sufficient evidence to satisfy the SRA of the proposed COFA's suitability. The COFA must also declare that the information supplied about them is correct and complete.

The SRA can only approve a COFA if it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person.

When assessing the application, the SRA will apply its Suitability Test.

The SRA will