Anti-money laundering and AML Checks by Your Lawyer

Anti-money laundering regulations mean that most law firms (and we are not one of the few exceptions) must carry out AML checks on most new clients (and we do not make any exceptions). We appreciate that this might seem intrusive but Hancocks is required to comply with Anti-Money Laundering guidance from The Law Society and the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019. This means that we undertake a risk assessment for every client at the beginning of our working relationship and we might have to follow this with additional checks if the relationship continues for three years or more, or if someone’s risk profile changes. We are bound by money laundering regulations so it is vital we comply fully with the guidance.

The UK is a major international financial and legal centre, with a strong reputation for honesty and integrity.

Unfortunately, that is why financial and professional businesses, like banks and solicitors’ firms, are attractive to money launderers – criminals who sometimes try to hide stolen money by turning it into legitimate income. The government has introduced measures:

  • to make it more difficult for criminals to make and keep money from their crimes; and
  • to confiscate the proceeds of crime

For this reason, there are compulsory checks which solicitors have to make on many of their clients.

What Factors Affect Your Risk Assessment?

We will review a wide range of factors when we carry out a risk assessment. One of the questions we will need to ask is how you found us and why you picked us. With the arrival of remote working and people finding law firms through their websites, we are getting more enquiries from further afield. We welcome clients from anywhere but we will have to ask you questions about why you have picked us rather than a law firm that is nearer to you.

Anti-Money Laundering Checks

All clients need to provide us with proof of identity and proof of address. In certain limited circumstances, some clients may need to provide proof of their right to live in the UK.

We ask new clients questions like:

  1. What are your reasons for leaving your previous law firm (where relevant)?
  2. How long have you owned any property you are selling?
  3. What is your type of work? What is the nature of the business you run?
  4. Does your business handle significant quantities of cash?

If you are instructing us to set up a trust or a company, we will require answers to additional questions.

Asking you for identification documents and further information does not mean that you are under suspicion; these requirements apply to most clients and there are certain types of matter where we will need to ask more questions.

Once you have become a Hancocks/Cotswold Family Law client, we will undertake periodic reviews to ensure we have covered all matters required to comply with AML guidance. As the guidance changes, we may need to add retrospective checks to our existing clients.

Please note that we do not accept cash payments in excess of £500 on invoices or into our client account.

Source of funds

If your matter will involve you making payments into our client account (for example, when purchasing property), we will require you to advise us how the balance of funds has been accumulated and to provide evidence by means of bank statements or similar to cover a period of at least six months.

Anti-Money Laundering regulations are far-reaching and oblige us to ask you questions about any payments that you make to us. We are required to check the source of all funds passing through our client account.  We often have to follow up on the information you provide by asking additional questions; being asked for this information does not mean you are under suspicion and we are grateful for your cooperation in this regard.