UPDATED - Information from the SRA on COLP and COFA Nominations
You should have received an email from the SRA on 31 May 2012 and a further email on 3 July 2012 giving details of a direct link to your personal application. The SRA also sent out an additional letter dated 13 July 2012 to those who had not nominated by that date, which gave details of how to access your personal application.

COLPS and COFAs – the deadline for nominations is fast approaching

Important deadlines

The nomination forms were first made available on 31 May 2012, when the nomination process opened. Firms need to make their nominations by 31 July 2012. The SRA will confirm successful nominations in writing between 1 August 2012 and 31 December 2012. COLPS and COFAs will formally assume their duties from 1 January 2013.

If your firm has not received a personalised email invitation from the SRA to nominate a COLP and COFA, please check your spam folders or quarantined emails before you contact the SRA.

If you are unable to trace the SRA’s email message—addressed and sent to your firm's authorised signatory on 31 May, from complianceofficers@sra.org.uk, with the subject "Nominate your firm's COLP and COFA: What you must do by 31 July"—please contact the SRA so that it can check the details on record for your authorised signatory.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that are relevant to sole practitioners.

You will find a full list of FAQs at www.sra.org.uk/complianceofficers

Do I need a COLP and COFA?

The SRA has received feedback that some sole practitioners do not think they need to nominate COLPs and COFAs. This is misinformation: you are required to have these roles in place – irrespective or whether you hold client monies or not.

How can a sole practitioner fulfil the COLP and COFA roles?

Regulation 4.8 of the SRA Practising Regulations requires a sole practitioner to have an individual who is designated as the COLP and as the COFA. The designated individual could either be the sole practitioner, or an employee of the sole practitioner, provided they meet the relevant criteria and their designation is approved by the SRA. The same person can fulfil the role of both the COLP and the COFA.

We are considering nominating an individual who is self-employed and will undertake the role of COLP/COFA under a Service Level Agreement with a fixed time commitment for which the firm would have exclusive rights. It is intended that the individual will take up the post on a part-time basis. Is this acceptable?

In accordance with regulation 4.8 (d) (i) of the SRA Practising Regulations, a COLP must be an individual who is the recognised sole practitioner or an employee of the firm. It will be necessary to be satisfied that the individual comes within the definition of "employee" which is set out in the SRA Handbook Glossary.

It may be possible for the role to be undertaken on a part-time basis; however, how feasible this will be will be dependent on the size and nature of the firm, its work and risk profile.

Are COLPs and COFAs ultimately responsible for all compliance issues in firms?

Firms and nominees must read and understand, in particular, regulations 4.7 and 4.8 of the SRA Practising Regulations. Responsibility for compliance with regulatory and statutory requirements rests with the recognised sole practitioner. Compliance officers must take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance and also have specific responsibilities in regard to the recording and reporting of failures in compliance breaches.

For advice on COLPs and COFAs, call our Professional ethics helpline on 0870 606 2577 (inside the UK), 09.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday. If you are calling outside of the UK, the number is +44 (0)1527 504450.