All lawyers running a trust account must submit monthly and quarterly certificates.
Firms not running a trust account must hold an exemption under s317 (1) of the LCA (see below about practising without a trust account).
You can certify to the Law Society in the form prescribed under Regulation 4, that you do not handle trust money or client assets, invest money for any client, have a trust bank account, or receive fees or disbursements in advance of an invoice being issued. You will be required to certify that you have not done any of those things during the preceding 12 months and do not intend to do any of them in the following 12 months. You will be required to renew this certificate each year.
The certificate must normally be filed by the 10th working day of each month in respect of the preceding month. In January the deadline is the 15th working day, for filing December's certificate. These dates apply for both monthly and quarterly certificates.
You will be reminded shortly after the due date. However you (or your staff) should make a diary note every month if there is any risk of it being forgotten. Late certificates are recorded in the Law Society Registry database and notified to Inspectors. If you are aware in advance that it is going to be late, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with an explanation and an expected filing date.
The Registry certificate system will acknowledge receipt of your certificate within minutes if you click ‘send an email to Trust Administrator when submitted’ before submitting it. You can also check it’s been submitted by clicking on the ‘Certificates’ tab on the left of your screen, which shows your certification history under the heading 'existing certificates'.
If you forget your password, click on ‘I’ve forgotten my password’, enter your six digit lawyer login, and a replacement password will be emailed to your registered email address.
We suggest you check the following before signing:
1. The trust ledger was correctly reconciled with the corresponding trust bank accounts for both the general trust account and interest bearing deposit accounts
2. The trust account records were a complete and accurate record of transactions during the month and of each client's position
3. The trust account transactions during the month have been in accordance with client instructions and where completed, properly accounted for to clients
4. During the month the practice has complied with all the trust accounting provisions of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and the LCA (Trust Account) Regulations 2008
5. During the month the practice has complied with the LCA (Lawyers: Nominee Company) Rules 2008, where applicable
You should report this in the form of a ‘No’ answer under item 4 on the monthly certificate, with a brief explanation – no separate letter is necessary.
If the overdraw was due to a bank error and has since been remedied, the trust account itself can be regarded as still being in order and you should enter a ‘Yes’ under item 4. However it may still be appropriate to seek a written explanation from the bank and keep it on your file.
As per regulation 17(2)(a) you need to advise, either in the positive or negative, whether the collection of interest on any loans or other debt securities was undertaken on behalf of lenders by the practice during the relevant quarter. If it was not, you just need to answer ‘no’ to question 6.
Yes, if you do other kinds of lending. The Regulations specify that you must report on ‘the collection of interest on any loans or other debt securities…on behalf of lenders by the practice’; this might mean private or single lender mortgages, or contributory mortgages.
Regulation 16(4)(c) permits another partner to verify the correctness of the certificate and sign. If you are a sole practitioner, your attorney (appointed pursuant to s 44 and Schedule 1 of the LCA) can sign on your behalf, however s/he will not have your electronic password, so they should use a paper certificate available by emailing the address below.
Notify the Law Society via email@example.com. The Registry department need to ensure that the new person taking on the role is properly qualified and that the dates of the changeover are clearly recorded. Only one partner in a firm is the designated TAS at one time. If there is ambiguity about who filled the role and when, the validity of the TAS qualification can be affected. See the next question:
Trust Account Regulation 19 provides that a TAS qualification is valid for three years after being successfully completed, during which time you must take up the role to maintain the validity beyond that time. Completing the qualification does not in itself mean that you are now the designated TAS for the firm; you must still make the Law Society aware that you have chosen to take up the role and undertake the role continuously for a period not less than 12 months.
If, having taken up the role of TAS, you later decide to step down, the life of the qualification is extended to ten years because of your experience. The difference between the three and ten years’ life of the qualification is the reason for the importance of advising the Law Society when the role changes.
Apply to the Law Society via firstname.lastname@example.org for an exemption under reg 20 of the Trust Account Regulations.
If you have any queries about monthly and quarterly certification, please email email@example.com.