Update from The Law Society’s Money Laundering Taskforce

  • 02/03/2023

The Law Society’s Money Laundering Task Force: what we do, why it matters, how we can help each other.

In September, I returned to the chair of the Money Laundering Task Force after 4 years, when my colleague Amasis Saba held the role. He’s done an amazing job, in the face of increased pressure from government, law enforcement and regulators for Solicitors to show they are compliant with the Anti Money Laundering Regime and that the measures they have in place are effective.

Who are we?

The majority of the task force are practitioners, falling into one of three categories. We have people who run or work within a firm’s compliance team, we have members who often advise clients on how to comply with the requirements, and we have some members who represent people accused on money laundering. We also have two members who are from academia, and an observer member who is a Scottish Solicitor. This mix of specialisms means that our views are balanced, not just looking at how we comply, but most importantly I feel for the Law Society, considering the rights of the public, who are, after all, mostly likely not money launderers or funding terrorism. A couple of years ago we expanded the group to include specialists in Sanctions, an issue which has risen up the priority list for Compliance Officers.

What do we do?

The role of the Money Laundering Task Force is to advise on all matters relating to money laundering and sanctions including:

  • to advise on guidance to solicitors about their professional and legal duties
  • to advise on the approach the Society should take in responding to proposals for legislative change from government or elsewhere and in promoting changes to legislation; and
  • to comment on and review all anti money laundering (AML) and sanctions related consultations sent to the Society.

It is perhaps worth noting that the Law Society is a Statutory Professional Body Supervisor (PBS), which means that although the enforcement responsibilities of the role have been delegated to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Society remains responsible for raising awareness and educating and supporting Solicitors. In line with that, the members of the task force will get involved in writing guidance and delivering training for members.

Why does it matter?

Most people are not money launderers, but the damage they do is immense. It affects families, communities, vulnerable people as well as local and national economies.  It is right the government requires there to be effective action taken to stop criminals from abusing the legal services sector to launder their illicit funds. But at the same time the expectations of us, and our clients, need to be proportionate, and risk based. As such, a strong focus of the Law Society’s and the task force’s work is holding any new proposed laws, plans or guidance to that standard.

The importance of working with Local Law Societies

It is vital for our work that we can understand the challenges which the whole of the profession face. There are remarkable differences between the risks which different firms face, whether small firms working in their local area, or international firms with offices all over the world. The clients we have also represent different risk, whether private individuals, SME businesses, or companies registered overseas. We want to work with you to support your members, and to reflect their views and challenges in our work.

What we are going to do

Following our recent meeting with the LLS, we will seek, where time and capacity permits, views on proposed consultation from LLS and we will also endeavour to provide information to Societies to enable them to prepare their own responses.

We are keen to establish an email group to enable communication between us and you. We will use this group to inform you about upcoming events, changes in the law and relevant consultations. To receive our AML Update please register at Anti-money laundering | The Law Society Add to My LS account.

Again, following feedback from both the Task Force, and LLS, if we are able, we’re keen to come along and speak to your society whether at committee meetings, or conferences.

How you and your members can help us

The Taskforce will be looking for more members. This year a few of our long-standing members terms come to an end, and we expect to have several vacancies. Adverts will be published in April, and we’d be grateful if you could circulate this to your members.

We’d also really like to hear from any committees or members that:

  • Have views on proposed future legislation;
  • Find any issues with the Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG) guidance, where you think it is inconsistent or confusing; or
  • Believe that you have been unfairly criticised by the SRA, particularly where you consider their approach is not risk based, or in line with the law/guidance.

I’m really looking forward to the next few years, working in partnership with you all to keep AML workable and proportionate, and stop Solicitors becoming victims of criminals.


Amy Bell

Chair of the Money Laundering Task Force