External examination of trust records
27 March 2019
Obligations of principals
If your law practice did not hold or receive trust money during the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, you must lodge QLS Form 4 - Part A Law Practice Declaration on or before 30 April 2019.
If your law practice held or received 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.
Please complete a QLS Form 4 (Law Practice Declaration and Trust Money Statement) and provide it to your external examiner as soon as possible after 31 March 2019. The external examiner will then complete their report and lodge it with the Society by 30 May 2019. 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.
The forms have recently been updated. Please click here for the current forms. Please be mindful that there is a 15MB limit for emails sent to the Society.
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 s9(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 s46(2)(c) of the Act).
For the last external examination period (1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018), 11 practitioners were issued with show cause notices that regard 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 conditions imposed such as being required to undertake the remedial ethics course or remedial trust account course.
For more information about external examinations, please telephone Trust Account Investigations on 07 3842 5908 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.