Barristers, chambers and BSB entities need to be aware of the risk of becoming involved in money laundering and/or terrorist financing.

  • If you undertake work that falls within the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations, then you have specific obligations under the Regulations.
  • If you are a barrister acting in a matter that is not covered by the Regulations, you still have an obligation not to commit an offence within the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Terrorism Act 2000.
  • Barristers have a legal obligation to report to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) information that could undermine UK financial sanctions.

We are responsible for the supervision of barristers and BSB entities under the Money Laundering Regulations. Regulation 46 requires us to publish an annual report containing information about supervision activity undertaken to encourage the reporting of actual or potential breaches of the Regulations and measures carried out to monitor, and enforce, compliance by barristers and BSB entities with their obligations. 

New for 2022

Joint legal sector guidance approved by HM Treasury

The joint legal sector AML guidance, which was prepared by the Legal Sector Anti-Money Laundering Group (comprising legal sector regulators and representative bodies), has now received approval from HM Treasury. Please see our guidance page for details.

Sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine

A tranche of sanctions was imposed by the UK on Russia, following the Prime Minister’s announcement to the House of Commons on 22 February 2022. The full details of the measures are available on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.

The UK has many different international trade sanctions against individuals and groups. These sanctions are written into law, and compliance with them is mandatory for all barristers and BSB entities. Read more about your obligations on this webpage.

Conducting Due Diligence on High Risk Countries

HM Treasury has published an advisory notice regarding the risks posed by jurisdictions with unsatisfactory money laundering and terrorist financing controls. It sets out which jurisdictions will be included in forthcoming amendment to Schedule 3ZA of the Money Laundering Regulations. This statutory instrument comes into force on 29 March 2022 and replaces the list of high-risk third countries specified in Schedule 3ZA. This list replicates those countries listed by the Financial Action Task Force as high risk, or under increased monitoring.

Register of Overseas Entities Beneficial Ownership

The Government has expedited legislation, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement Act) 2022, to crack down on money laundering through professional services and property by establishing a new Register of Overseas Entities Beneficial Ownership. The new register will require overseas companies owning or buying property in the UK to provide information about their true beneficial owners to Companies House. The Government is working to ensure the requirements come into force as soon as possible.

If you engage in property work, or as a Trust or Company Service Provider, you should be aware of criminals seeking to evade the new requirements. The National Risk Assessment assesses that the property sector faces a high risk from money laundering due to the large amounts of money that can be moved by investing in property. The UK property market remains an attractive method to launder money, in particular through purchases made by corporate structures or trusts based in secrecy jurisdictions, due to the difficulties in determining ultimate beneficial owners. The register will help to improve transparency.

Your obligation to carry out a risk assessment

Under Regulation 18 of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations, self-employed barristers and BSB entities who carry out work that falls within the scope of the Regulations must take appropriate steps to identify and assess the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing to which their practice or business is subject. Our risk assessment page has further information.

Declaration at Authorisation to Practise and obtaining a criminal records check

When you apply for or renew your practising certificate, you are asked to declare whether you carry out work that falls within the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations. If you do, you must obtain a criminal records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service if you were not subject to a criminal record check at Call. You can find further information about your obligations online.

National Crime Agency and Suspicious Activity Reports

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has prepared a set of frequently asked questions on the process for obtaining a Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML). A DAML is a term used by the NCA to refer to “appropriate consent” to carry out an activity that may result in a person committing a principal money laundering or terrorist financing offence.

If you require specific advice on DAML or any other part of the SARs regime you can contact the Bar Council Ethical Enquiries Service for further assistance and guidance.

Protocol with the Bar Council

The General Council of the Bar is the designated Professional Body Supervisor under the Regulations. In line with our Protocol for ensuring regulatory independence, supervisory responsibility is delegated to the Bar Standards Board. We have a Protocol for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing with the Bar Council which sets our respective roles under the Regulations.

Contacting us with a concern about Money Laundering

The BSB’s Money Laundering Hotline is a confidential service that anyone can use to report a concern to us about a person or an organisation we regulate, in connection with Money Laundering.

If you have any comments or questions about this page, please contact us.