More than half of the law firms covered by the scope of activity report suspicious activity
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More than half of the law firms covered by the scope of activity report suspicious activity

New analysis from Thirdfort, a client due diligence platform, reveals that more than half of law firms subject to anti-money laundering (AML) regulations filed suspicious activity reports (SARs) last year. According to the data, UK law firms filed a total of 3,560 SARs and defence anti-money laundering (DAML) reports in 2022/23. This figure represents 59% of the 6,007 law firms subject to AML regulations, assuming each firm filed one SAR.

The research shows a significant increase in the total number of SARs and DAML SARs filed by lawyers, with an increase of almost 25% over the last two years. Specifically, there has been a 4% increase in 2022/2023 compared to the previous year and an increase of almost 20% from 2020/2021 to 2021/2022.

Year SARs DAML SARs Total
2020/2021 1,715 1,160 2875
2021/2022 2,052 1,384 3,436
2022/2023 2,121 1,439 3,560

Harriet Holmes, AML Services Manager at Thirdfort, commented on the findings: “Our analysis shows that the number of SARs filed by lawyers has increased by almost 25% over the last two years. This is a welcome development given the key role lawyers play as gatekeepers in the regulated sector. Ultimately, this supports the protection of the public from fraud and money laundering.

“While the number of SARs filed by lawyers has increased, so has the risk of fraud and money laundering. Therefore, law firms should continue to take a comprehensive approach to their AML obligations and encourage lawyers to engage in the compliance process and report issues when they see them. By taking a more proactive approach to AML, law firms can stay on the right side of the law after filing SARs.”

The Thirdfort platform leverages AI, biometric verification, and open banking to automate KYC, AML, and source verification, turning what has traditionally been a long and cumbersome process into one that takes just minutes.