Legal Jargon Busting

Brian Rogers

Regulatory Director

Do you know what PEP, PWRA, BOOM, PCP, RBA, DAML and CDD mean?

If you are involved in anti-money laundering activity within your firm the likelihood is that you will know what these acronyms mean, however, this cannot be taken for granted as some AML practitioners are more advanced in this area than others. It may also be that someone is unfamiliar in this area as it is not part of their day-to-day activities.

I recently attended a virtual event for law firms where a number of the attendees complained about the use of jargon and acronyms by presenters; some even left the event having said they did not like the use of what they saw as gobbledegook!

Lawyers have historically had a reputation for using legalistic language with their clients, and although this has improved over the years it is clear that the use of jargon and acronyms is still an issue, even for those within the profession!

Keeping it simple and using plain English are key to getting and maintaining an attendee’s attention, so the use of jargon and acronyms should not be used, unless clear explanations have previously been given.

The use of acronyms can also be very confusing, especially when the same ones are used for different things, for example, when you talk about a SAR are you talking about a Suspicious Activity Report or Subject Access Request?

Many people are not forthcoming when they don’t understand what something means or stands for, so there is a real risk that this lack of understanding will create a gap in their knowledge and/or competence, and this could impact on what they do for their clients; it could have an even bigger impact when it comes to understanding and dealing with the prevention of money laundering!

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) advocates keeping things simple as this reduces the risks of people failing to understand what needs to be done, so make sure that your policies and procedures can be easily understood and followed; if in doubt, use the ‘omnibus test’, namely, would the person sitting next to you on the bus understand what you are saying or asking them to do?

For those of you who are still unsure what the acronyms used above mean, here they are:

  • PEP – Politically Exposed Person
  • PWRA – Practice-Wide Risk Assessment
  • BOOM – Beneficial Owners, Officers and Managers
  • PCP – Policies, Controls and Procedures
  • RBA – Risk-Based Approach
  • DAML – Defence Against Money Laundering
  • CDD – Client Due Diligence