Queensland Law Society

30 May 2019 deadline for lodgment of trust record external examinations

Obligations of all principals

All law practices in Queensland, regardless of whether the law practice held a trust account, were required to lodge a Law Practice Declaration on QLS Form 4 - Part A on or before 30 April 2019. Because that due date has now passed, any Part A lodgements received after 30 April are considered a late lodgment.

If your law practice did hold or receive trust money (operated a trust account) during the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, you are required to have the law practice’s trust records externally examined and provide the external examiner’s report to the Society on or before 30 May 2019 (60 days from 31 March).

Please complete a QLS Form 4 (Law Practice Declaration and Trust Money Statement) and provide it to your external examiner as soon as possible. The external examiner will then complete their report and lodge both reports with the Society by 30 May 2019. Please note that if one report is submitted to the Society without the other, this is considered an incomplete lodgment and will not be recorded as received.

Please be aware that it is your obligation to ensure the report is lodged within the statutory timeframe. There is no provision for extensions to be granted. You are however encouraged to contact the Society if you believe you will not comply with the above deadline.

 

Consequences for failure to lodge

The Society is responsible for ensuring law practices and principals comply with their legal obligations regarding trust accounts and trust money, to protect clients and the general public.

It is the Society’s view that a principal’s failure to comply with their obligations to submit external examiner’s reports is a ‘suitability matter’ under s 9(1)(k) of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) and a matter which may be taken into account when assessing whether a principal is a fit and proper person to continue to hold their practising certificate (see s 46(2)(c) of the Act).

Following the last external examination period (1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018), eleven practitioners were issued with Show Cause Notices regarding the "proposed suspension, amendment or cancellation of the practitioner’s practising certificate". Outcomes include principals being downgraded to employee practising certificates and practitioners having their practising certificates amended with imposed conditions such as being required to undertake the Remedial Ethics Course or Remedial Trust Account Course.

For more information about external examinations please email Trust Account Investigations or phone 07 3842 5908.

The forms have recently been updated and are available for downloading from the QLS website. Please be mindful that there is a 15MB limit for emails sent to the Society.