Law Society Council Update December 2018

As always, there are a couple of general caveats that apply to these updates:

Firstly, Regulation 24 of the Law Society Council Regulations obliges a member to keep confidential all matters coming to within his knowledge arising from his membership of the Council or any of its committees.

So, obviously, this obligation limits the extent to which I am able to report to you on the actual business of Council.

However, it seems to me that there are many things arising at Council that are in the public domain, albeit perhaps not that well known about. And I expect that there will resources for the profession that come to light that can usefully be shared through this channel.

Secondly, this are ephemeral updates that I’m compiling quickly. Therefore, I’m writing and posting them from the best of my recollection, pretty much as they come out in first draft without detailed proofreading. I offer them as a quick contemporary note of my impressions, they’re not intended to be refined legal writing or my considered opinion on these issues, so please take or leave them as such.

Taking Up of New Offices

The lion’s share of the business of the November meeting of Council is a changing of the guard, the outgoing President hands over to the incoming one and the attendant roles are filled.

As you will no doubt be aware, Patrick Dorgan took over from Michael Quinlan for the coming year and there was a decidedly Cork lilt to the proceeding as a result.  So much so in fact, that it was announced that one of the Council meetings this year will even be held in Cork.  Now that’s what I call taking back control, like!

You may have seen the incoming President’s message in the Gazette, and what I believe he intends to be the theme of his Presidency was reflected in his remarks to Council.

However, he made a closing remark that caught my attention in particular and that I think is worth sharing, he quoted Napoleon who apparently said that one should “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence”.

Now, it was, of course, said in a most light-hearted and self-deprecating way, but the words struck me.  I’ve looked them up since and, apparently, it is also a corollary of Murphy’s law known as Hanlon’s law.  (We Irish seem to be good on laws in this area for some reason…)

The expression can, of course, be uttered cynically, but I think there is another side to this in that we would all be far better off in practice and in life if we just assumed good intentions.

We are all infinitely fallible and frail humans just trying to do our best, most of the time.  So don’t take whatever your counterpart on the other side does personally; don’t assume malice, and remember, even if it is present, it’s their problem, not yours.

Crowe Horwath Market Study of Sole Practitioners and Smaller Practices

You may have been asked to participate in this study earlier in the year.  This was an initiative of the outgoing President Michael Quinlan to look at the future prospects of sole practitioners and smaller practices in particulars.  A report on the findings of the study was presented to the Council at the November meeting and, presumably, the findings will be communicated to the profession in due course.

Legal Services Regulation Act

There was no substantive update on this in the time allowed at the November meeting.  However, the word on the street seems to be that the Authority is determined to be in operation by the middle of 2019.  We shall see.

Anti Money Laundering

The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2018 was signed into law on14 November 2018 and it involves considerable change in the way in which we need to comply with our Anti Money Laundering obligations.  As far as I can tell from a quick scan online, it looks like all sections, bar Section 32, were commenced on 26 November 2018.

The Act is here.

While there is change, it is not all new.  The 2018 Act implements the Fourth AML Directive and further embeds the risk-based approach to AML with a view to preventing from becoming a tick-box exercise.

Therefore, the changes introduced by the 2018 Act merely graft on to to the existing Guidance.  The Law Society has already updated the guidance which is here.

The Society has also created a number of helpful infographics that can help with ascertaining compliance requirements, which are here.

There are also a number of sample adaptable forms including:

A Business Risk Assessment.

Policies, Controls and Procedures.

Risk Factor Questionnaire for Customer Risk Assessment.

Document Your Thought Process Forms for Customer Risk Assessment.

These are available on the AML section of the Law Society website here.

(Warning, there are a lot of TLAs (three letter acronyms!)

Changes to Conveyancing

I touched on this on my email last month, and it didn’t come up at the November Council meeting but it is so significant that I felt it really warranted repetition.

There is a huge change to our conveyancing system coming from January 2019 whereby the requisition on title process will more entirely pre-contract.  While, to an extent, this just seems to me to reflect what has become more and more general practice in recent years, it still represents a quantum shift to our understanding of how conveyancing works here.  This change snuck up on me completely (I must admit to my shame) and therefore, I just want to spread the word as much as possible.

The relevant documents, outlining the various changes, are available on the precedents section of the Law Society’s website here (listed under item 31).

The 2019 Conditions of Sale are here with an Explanatory Memorandum here.

The 2019 Requisitions on Title are here with an Explanatory Memorandum here.

There are FAQs on the new General Conditions here.

Free CDP Webinar and A Special Announcement!

Back in October I ran a free CPD Webinar which seemed to be popular and (apart from some issues with the sound) went pretty well (I would sack my technical guy but the idiot is married to my wife.)

Therefore, I’ve decided to do another one and I’m going to run a very special Free CPD Webinar in January on planning for 2019.  Some simple planning for the year ahead can make a transformative difference in terms of the results you get from the year no matter what your situation in practice, whether your planning for your own business, your career or whatever.

So, give yourself every chance to make 2019 your best year ever in practice and join me in early January to get your plan for the year nailed down.  And get one of CPD in the bag in the first fortnight!

I’ll also have a very special announcement for all of the lucky punters on the call.

So, grab an early Christmas present from me here and register now here for a free hour of CPD in January.

See you then!

Meanwhile, I hope you get through all of the craziness of the coming weeks without hassle and then have a wonderful Christmas getting some valuable downtime with the people that are important to you.

And I’ll see you in January to hit the ground running in your planning for 2019 and some free CPD to get your year off to a flying start, grab your spot here.