The Law Society’s webpage (available at: www.lawsociety.ie/sanctions) provides detailed help to solicitors and law firms in terms of how they should respond to the sanctions that “are now rapidly increasing in number and scope, are being introduced at a speed never before experienced, have wide-reaching effect on individuals, countries and trade and are binding on all natural and legal persons”.
Legal practitioners should inform themselves about the helpful resources on the hub to ensure compliance with the EU’s sanctions and restrictive measures.
These sanctions cover a wide variety of elements, such as financial services (for example, asset freezes), immigration (including visa and travel bans), and trade (for example, import and export restrictions).
The Russian invasion of Ukraine currently applies restrictive measures to hundreds of individuals and entities, including an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to those listed individuals and entities.
The Law Society reminds legal practitioners that it is a criminal offence not to comply with these sanctions and “failure to do so could also result in severe reputational damage”.
The Law Society warns: “The legal profession also needs to be extra alert due to the risk that countries/people subject to sanctions may start looking for ways to move assets to avoid sanctions. Solicitors should make compliance with these sanctions a top priority.”
Five key steps
The Law Society has provided legal practitioners with a “recommended approach to ensuring compliance with sanctions (restrictive measures) on Russia and Belarus over Ukraine”.
It states that “due to the inherent nature of sanctions, their rapid expansion, the variety of legal services they may apply to, there is no definitive one-size-fits all approach”.
However, it provides a highly useful and detailed “initial key steps” that can be followed by members of the profession in order to ensure compliance.
“By following these steps, your firm will have effectively developed an up-to-date sanctions risk assessment, as well as a policy on sanctions compliance,” the Law Society says.
“It is important to capture the risks assessed, and the steps taken, to be able to demonstrate compliance,” it adds.
To this end, the Law Society recommends that practitioners should “document the steps you take under each of the five suggested key steps”.