Anti-money laundering

The General Council of the Bar of England and Wales is the supervisory authority for anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing for its members under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. In practice, the majority of the supervisory functions are delegated to the Bar Standards Board.

As barristers are not permitted to handle client money and for the most part receive instructions on a referral basis from another supervised professional, they present a low risk for AML. The Bar Council works with a number of stakeholders to ensure that this is reflected in legislation, regulation and guidance. Key stakeholders include HM Treasury, the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision, the Bar Standards Board and other legal sector AML supervisors throughout the UK. An important part of this engagement is responding to policy consultations issued by these stakeholders on behalf of the Bar.

We also convene a Money Laundering Working Group, established under the Ethics
Committee, which publishes our AML guidance for the Bar.

AML updates

New legislation and interim “key changes” note for 5MLD

On 10 January 2020, the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 were updated by the new Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019. These changes were brought in by the EU’s 5th Money Laundering Directive (which the UK will continue to comply with post-Brexit). Key changes include an expanded definition of tax advisors, further requirements for carrying out Customer Due Diligence, and a new requirement to report discrepancies on the Companies House register. The Bar Council, along with the other legal sector AML supervisors in the UK, are currently updating the joint Legal Sector AML Guidance and agreeing this with HM Treasury.

In the meantime, we have published a joint interim guidance note with the other legal sector supervisors, setting out the key changes brought by the Directive. You can view this note on our Ethics and Practice Hub here.


OPBAS confirm final fee structure
The Office of Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) have now confirmed their fee structure for their recovery of costs from professional body supervisors. The structure includes a minimum fee threshold for those professions with smaller supervised populations for AML, of which the Bar is one. Given both the size and low-risk nature of the Bar for AML, we are pleased to see that the Bar will not be disproportionately levied.
Legal Sector Anti-Money Laundering Guidance – approved by HM Treasury

HM Treasury has now approved the Legal Sector AML Guidance, which you can access on the Ethics and Practice Hub.

Importantly, this guidance includes confirmation from HM Treasury that the provision of legal advice does not fall within the scope of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. This means that if you are only providing legal advice on a case, that case does not immediately fall within the Regulations. For further information, see the Legal Sector AML Guidance or the Bar Council’s own guidance available via the above link.