Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent—law firms
Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent—law firms

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

  • Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent—law firms
  • NCA statistics
  • The defence (consent) regime
  • Asking further questions
  • Submitting a SAR
  • SAR tips
  • Post submission
  • You are granted a DAML, what's next?
  • SuperSARs
  • Dealing with complex situations

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002) and the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA 2000) impose obligations to report knowledge or suspicions of money laundering and terrorist financing to the National Crime Agency (NCA) by way of a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). There are heavy criminal sanctions for failing to do so.

A SAR can be:

  1. an internal SAR to the firm's nominated officer, or

  2. an external SAR to the NCA

This Practice Note contains practical guidance for the nominated officer on making an external SAR to the NCA and securing a defence for carrying out a prohibited act (ie continue with the matter that you know or suspect involves money laundering or terrorist financing). See also Practice Note: Reporting suspicions of money laundering—law firms for more detailed information on the law relating to the SARs regime.

NCA statistics

The NCA's SARs Annual Report 2019 was published in November 2019 and covers the period April 2018 to March 2019. It reveals a number of key findings:

  1. the NCA received 478,437 SARs

  2. SARs received from solicitors totalled 2,774, making up just 0.58% of the total number of SARs received by the NCA

  3. consent was sought in 34,151 anti-money laundering (AML) SARs, of which consent was refused in 1,332 cases

  4. consent was sought in 392 counter-terrorist financing SARs, of which consent was refused