The Lawyer has reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has asked several law firms to review whether they are linked to the law firm Mossack Fonseca at the centre of the Panama Papers data dump. For more, see Blog post, Our man in Panama, 6 April 2016. The SRA is understood to be working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and a number of other regulatory bodies. For more, see Legal update, FCA writes to firms requesting they check for links to law firm at centre of “Panama Papers” leak.
The 10 mandatory Principles in the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct (which was updated on 1 April 2016) require that a solicitor both upholds the rule of law and the proper administration of justice (Principle 1) and to act in the best interests of each client (Principle 4). Where these mandatory Principles come into conflict, the one that takes precedence is the one which best serves the public interest. Another mandatory Principle is to comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner. For more information, see the SRA Handbook.
The third section of the SRA Handbook sets out the cooperation required by the SRA. The law firms approached may be required in connection with their practice or in connection with any trust of which the firm is, or formerly was, a trustee to:
- Comply promptly with any written notice from the SRA.
- Produce for inspection by the SRA documents held by you, or held under your control.
- Provide all information and explanations requested.
- Comply with all requests from the SRA as to the form in which you produce any documents you hold electronically, and for photocopies of any documents to take away.
The repercussions of the Panama Papers continue to spread through the legal and financial world. For more, see Legal update, SRA commences action on the Panama papers.