14. Client documents

    1. A solicitor with designated responsibility for a client’s matter, must ensure that, upon completion or termination of the law practice’s engagement:
      1. the client or former client; or
      2. another person authorised by the client or former client,
        is given any client documents, (or if they are electronic documents copies of those documents), as soon as reasonably possible when requested to do so by the client, unless there is an effective lien.
    2. A solicitor or solicitor’s law practice may destroy client documents after a period of 7 years has elapsed since the completion or termination of the engagement, except where there are client instructions or legislation to the contrary.

Guidance statements

If a law practice has an obligation to provide or return ‘client documents’ to a client at the completion or termination of the law practice’s engagement: In what form should those documents be provided (particularly if the documents are in electronic form)? Is the law practice permitted to charge for providing them? Is the law practice permitted to retain a copy of the documents?

This Guidance Statement provides assistance to solicitors in complying with their ethical duties when dealing with the transfer of files to another practitioner or their client.