It has only been a couple of days since we made firms aware of new guidance relating to the SRA’s Accounts Rules and, in particular, the considerations for firms where there may be a delay in obtaining an Accountant’s Report, but this morning the SRA has updated that guidance.
The first point to note is that there is a little more clarity around the possible scenarios leading to a delay, and the guidance now mentions that a delay caused by the reporting accountant being unable to complete their report would not be classed as a reportable breach, nor would the law firm itself delaying the work being done because of the coronavirus.
There is a new section that considers how a reporting accountant should go about completing their work under the current social distancing rules. While this doesn’t modify the rules in any way, the guidance reminds us that reporting accountants are able to use professional judgement when deciding what level of work to carry out, how this can be undertaken and, most importantly, where. So, delivering original files to the accountant, or scanning documents are both perfectly acceptable (observing data protection requirements of course).
A number of firms have asked us whether any extension to the normal six-month deadline will be automatic or on an application only basis, and the new guidance stops short of setting that out explicitly. We understand however that the SRA is not planning on issuing a blanket extension at the moment.
Watch this space for further guidance as it emerges.