Nominating COLPs and COFAs

Last updated 28 November 2013

Changing your COLP and COFA

There may be circumstances in which your approved COLP and/or COFA will no longer be able to undertake the role. This may be because:

  • the individual no longer meets the eligibility or suitability criteria;
  • the individual is leaving your firm;
  • the individual is no longer able to fulfil the role (for example, through extended sickness absence or where their responsibilities have changed within your firm);
  • another individual is now required to undertake the role.

In these circumstances you will need to nominate another individual to fulfil the role. You should seek approval of the new COLP/COFA prior to the individual taking up the role. To do this, complete an Individual Approval application form (Editable PDF 23 pages, 789K) and email authorisation@sra.org.uk, using the subject title "Change of Compliance Officer". The email should contain the following information:

  • the name and SRA ID number of the firm which proposes to change its COLP/COFA;
  • name and SRA number (or mySRA number) of the candidate you wish to nominate;
  • the reason for the change of the COLP/COFA.

If your COLP/COFA candidate is not regulated by us, or if they do not already have a mySRA account, the candidate will need to register with mySRA before their nomination can be considered. However, you should encourage your candidate to check whether they already have a mySRA account before registering a new one.

The Authorised Signatory and the candidate will be required to complete online nomination forms.

Typically, we expect to complete consideration of COLP COFA applications within 30 days of receipt of a complete application. In complex cases, or in cases where information needs to be obtained from overseas, decisions will take longer than 30 days. The rules provide for a decision period of six months. We expect that decisions would only take this length of time in the most exceptional circumstances and as a result of extensive investigations. In such cases we would keep applicants informed of the progress of the application.

A "completed" application will be deemed to be received once we have received all the information necessary to make a decision: This may include additional information, for example, in some cases it may be necessary to request that a complete an electronic criminal records check.

We would therefore encourage you to make an application to change your COLP or COFA at the earliest possible opportunity.

You and the COLP/COFA candidate(s) will receive confirmation of the outcome of your nomination by email. Your COLP/COFA candidate may not take up their role before you have received confirmation from us that they are approved.

Temporary Emergency Approval

There may be some circumstances, that you will not know beforehand, that result in the COLP or COFA being unable to fulfil the role, for example, sudden and unexpected sick leave or dismissal. In such circumstances you may apply for temporary emergency approval of a replacement compliance officer. You must immediately, and in any event, within seven days:

  • notify the SRA;
  • designate another suitable individual to undertake the role;
  • apply for temporary approval.

You can notify the SRA and apply for temporary approval by emailing authorisation@sra.org.uk, using the subject title "Temporary approval application". You must state why the application for temporary emergency approval is necessary.

Withdrawing consent

Prospective COLPs and COFAs must consent to their nomination. If you no longer wish to continue in the role of COLP/COFA or (if approval has not yet been granted) you wish to withdraw from the nomination process, we encourage you to discuss this with your firm in the first instance.

If you still wish to withdraw, you should then contact us immediately by sending an email to authorisation@sra.org.uk using the subject title "Withdrawal from role". In the email, you must provide

  • your name and your SRA ID or mySRA ID (as appropriate);
  • the name and SRA ID of the effected firms;
  • the reason for your withdrawal;
  • date on which you wish the withdrawal to become effective.

If you are approved at more than one firm (particularly if those firms are related authorised bodies) you must provide the names and SRA IDs of all effected firms.

We will contact you within seven days to discuss this further.

Postholder absence

As with any post with a firm, it is expected that the COLP or COFA will be absent for short periods of time (for example, annual leave). However, the compliance and risk arrangements that are in place should not cease simply because the COLP and/or COFA is away from the office. Suitable compliance arrangements will be designed to ensure that issues can be identified and rectified in the absence of the COLP and/or COFA.

Where a compliance officer is likely to be absent for any length of time they may need to be replaced. There are no hard-and-fast rules for when a firm will need to designate another individual to undertake the role but, by way of guidance, any absence of more than four weeks (including maternity leave) should trigger this action.

If a firm ceases to have a COLP or COFA in unforeseen circumstances the authorised body must immediately and within seven days notify the SRA, designate another COLP or COFA (as appropriate) and apply for temporary emergency approval. You can notify the SRA and apply for temporary approval by emailing authorisation@sra.org.uk, using the subject title "Temporary approval application". You must state why the application for temporary emergency approval is necessary.

Temporary emergency approval will not be granted where the firm could have reasonably commenced a substantive application prior to the absence of the post-holder.

Whether or not your firm requires temporary emergency approval is your decision. However, you may wish to discuss the circumstances with your Supervisor/Relationship Manager or Professional Ethics in the first instance.

Individuals who are nominated as the prospective COLP and COFA, as well as the firm itself, have to declare as part of the nomination process that they are fit and proper persons to undertake these key roles and that they have no suitability issues to declare.

Individuals should disclose all material issues to us, irrespective of whether such declarations have been made previously or whether it is considered the issue is already within our knowledge.

We take compliance with these declarations very seriously and the prospective COLP, COFA and firm should ensure that the application forms are read very carefully and the declarations given in support for the application are accurate and truthful.

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