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Are you ready for a CQS Audit?

 Are you ready for a CQS Audit?

If not, now is the time to prepare! 

Did you know that in the last 12 months the CQS office undertook desk top audits of nearly 25% of firms in the second year of their membership?  These continue to be undertaken on a monthly basis.  Depending on the outcome of the desk top a decision could be made to conduct a full audit of your firm.  These audits can centre on practice management standards, the protocol and the practice agreement – or all three!  Decisions may also be made to audit following receipt of any intelligence or complaints from either clients or CQS members about other members.

Onsite Audits visits are conducted by members of the CQS team or by CQS trained assessors (who are also Lexcel Accredited Assessors).  It is likely that in most cases Member practices will be notified in advance of the proposed visit and the areas of concern for discussion.  The number of audits will depend on the outcomes of the desk based assessments.  However, random audits may also take place.

There may also be some cases where the Law Society considers that there is a need to act quickly, where serious concerns that could affect a firm’s membership are made known to the CQS team.  In these situations member firms may only be given up to 24 hours notice of the intended visit. 

The Law Society take the view that it is essential to have an effective audit process to ensure that the CQS brand continues to represent the highest standards and retains the credibility of its members, lenders and the public.  Whilst most practitioners will understand the need for this but it is only natural that the prospect of a desk based assessment (let alone an onsite visit) can be daunting. 

Now is the time to consider how your firm would measure up to an audit.  Risk of non compliance should not be ignored.  If an audit reveals non compliance you will be expected to address these within a short timeframe.  Serious non compliance could result in a suspension (pending corrective action) or even revocation of your membership.

Remember you could be audited even if you are Lexcel accredited.  The Conveyancing Protocol and the Practice Agreement are not covered by Lexcel.  There is a danger of overlooking the need to adapt your procedures to comply with the specific requirements of the Protocol and/or to ensure that it is fully complied with.

Help is at hand if you need it.  We are running seminars to look in detail at the audit process, how to prepare, the pitfalls to avoid and how to ensure that your CQS procedures are part of the way you think and work.  

To book a course, visit;

https://www.cpm21.co.uk/index.php?page=30