CQS – The New Core Practice Management Standards

Brian Rogers

Regulatory Director

Are you aware of the changes to CQS which will take effect from 1st May 2019? 

CQS published three-core values in November 2018 and the new Core Practice Management Standards (The Standards) on 6th February 2019, overall the essence of The Standards is the same but there have been some changes to policies, procedures and practices which will affect CQS firms.

Firstly, you must ensure that the compulsory training has been concluded, this now applies to any firms accredited post 1st August 2018, as firms that were accredited prior to this date had until 31st January 2019 to complete the training. Access Legal are one of only two authorised training providers that can supply the training required by firms, if you need more assistance with this please let us know. 

There are also some new additions to your bank of policies that are required, these policies are in relation to Stamp Duty Land Tax and when acting in a purchase of a leasehold property. Access Legal Compliance will have templates available for each of these policies from mid-April. There are details below of what the policies must include: 

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT): 
  • How to audit trail the SDLT calculation and advice 
  • How and when to make checks between the consideration stated in the sale contract and transfer deed and SDLT Return and the payments on the solicitors’ client account ledger for the transaction 
  • A procedure for verifying the amount of SDLT payable, where applicable. 
  • Leasehold Management: 
  • A procedure for ensuring advice is given to the client regarding: 
  • Length of the term remaining 
  • Amount of ground rent and service charge 
  • The review provisions and method of calculation 

As part of Access Legal’s review of the new Standards we have identified some conflicting points regarding cyber essentials, requirement 6.2 states that ‘Practices must have an information management and security policy, which should be accredited against Cyber Essentials.’ Access Legal felt that this was unclear as it could relate to the policy or the firm being accredited, however CQS have confirmed to us that 6.2 relates to the firm being accredited. 

In addition to this, there are no definitions for terminology such as “must” and “should” within the Standards and these phrases have also been interchanged within single requirements. Again, CQS have confirmed that they will be updating the document to include these definitions and will also review it to ensure consistency in the terminology. 

Any firms applying for initial accreditation must also be able to meet the new standards from 1st May 2019, therefore please take the timing of your applications into consideration if you are currently going through this process.