New Zealand Law Society - Trust accounting - FAQs

Trust accounting - FAQs

Registry database login

What should I do if I forget my password?

If you forget your password, click on ‘I’ve forgotten my password’, enter your six-digit individual lawyer login, and a replacement password will be emailed to your registered email address.

Trust account certificates

Who must complete the certificates?

All law firms running a trust account must submit monthly and quarterly certificates, the certificate must be submitted by the appointed Trust Account Supervisor (TAS).

Firms not running a trust account must hold an exemption under s317 (1) of the LCA (refer to: practising without a trust account).

When is the deadline for filing a certificate?

Regulation 17 states that certificates must be filed by the 10th working day of each month in respect of the preceding month.

Except for the December certificate, when the deadline is the 15th working day of January.

These dates apply for both monthly and quarterly certificates, and do not take regional or other public holidays into account.

What happens if my certificate is late?

Late certificates are recorded in the Law Society Registry database and notified to Inspectors.

You will be reminded shortly after the due date that your certificate is late.

If for any reason you are unable to reconcile your trust account, do not allow your certificate to be late.

Please submit the certificate (before the due date), respond ‘No’ to question 4 and provide a detailed explanation as to what has occurred and how it was rectified.

It is recommended that you (or your staff) have a calendar reminder to ensure that your certificate is submitted within the statutorily required deadline.

How can I be sure my certificate will be safely received and recorded?

The Registry certificate system will acknowledge receipt of your certificate within minutes if you tick "send an email to TA Supervisor when submitted".     

You can also check it’s been submitted by clicking on the ‘Certificates’ tab on the left of your screen. This tab shows your certification history under the heading 'existing certificates'.

If in any doubt about whether the certificate is correctly filed, please contact for help.

Why must I submit a quarterly certificate if I don’t do any lending?

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.

I haven’t got a nominee company. Might I still need to answer ‘Yes’ to question 6 on the quarterly certificate?

Yes to question 6 may be appropriate, 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’ i.e. private or single lender mortgages, or contributory mortgages.

Reconciling the trust account

1. To check the trust ledger was correctly reconciled with the corresponding trust bank accounts for both the general trust account and interest-bearing deposit (IBD) accounts you should:

  • Obtain bank reconciliations and lists of client ledger balances for the trust account and IBDs.
  • Agree opening cash book (control account) balance to previous month’s closing balance.
  • Ensure the following totals agree:
    1. Deposits per the trust account bank statements and receipts per the trust account ledger, and
    2. Withdrawals per the trust account bank statements and payments per the trust account ledger.
  • Agree closing cashbook (control account) balance in the ceconciliation to the relevant lists of client ledger balances.
  • Agree the bank statement balance in the reconciliation to the relevant bank statement and bank schedule for IBDs.
  • Agree a sample of IBD balances from the bank’s schedule to your list of ledger balances.
  • Ascertain the first and last serial numbers for receipts, payments, deposits and withdrawals for the month and obtain explanations for any gaps in the serial number sequence.
  • Obtain a list of unpresented items, follow up on each item to determine why it has not been fully processed by the bank or recorded in the trust ledger.
  • Scrutinise the list of unpresented items for old items and follow these up.
  • Obtain details of any lodgements in transit (unbanked receipts). These should consist only of monies receipted the previous day too late to be banked until the following working day. Follow up any that are not banked for more than one working day.
  • Check previous months lodgements in transit (unbanked receipts) details to the bank deposit book and trust ledger receipt records.
  • Obtain explanation and documentary support for any other adjusting items in the reconciliation.
  • Watch for adjusting items carried forward on successive reconciliations, eg lodgements in transit; such items may indicate problems with accuracy of receipting or missing money.
  • Obtain explanations for any unusual adjusting items, eg negative unpresented or unrecorded payments; such items may indicate problems including missing money.
  • All adjusting items in the reconciliation should be described, so obtain explanations for any that are not explained and verify them to source.
  • Check the arithmetic of the reconciliation.
  • Consider the overall logic of the reconciliation by ensuring the following three items agree (see example bank statement and cashbook reconciliation):
    • Bank statement
    • Control account / cashbook
    • Trust trial balance / client listing

2. Check the following to ensure the trust account records were a complete and accurate record of transactions during the month and of each client’s position:

  • Posting of trust ledger up to date?
  • No unknown entries in month?
  • Trust ledger in balance?
  • Have any errors been identified in the month?
  • If so, why did they happen and how have they been corrected?
  • Have invoices actually been issued in respect of all amounts debited as fees?

3. Check the following to ensure the trust account transactions during the month have been in accordance with client instructions and (where completed), properly accounted for to clients:

  • Have all journal entries been signed as authorised?
  • Have any payments been processed that you think might not be authorised?
  • Have statements been sent to clients where appropriate? (Regulation 12(7)) ie on completion of the matter or at intervals not less than 12 months.
  • 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.
  • Have any breaches of the Act or Regulations occurred during the month? If so, have they since been rectified? Ensure such breaches are reported in your monthly certificate.
  • Scrutinise the firm’s float (advance) account for overdraws and unusual items.
  • During the month has the practice complied with the LCA (Lawyers: Nominee Company) Rules 2008, where applicable?
    • This applies to all nominee company and contributory advances, but not ‘single lender’ advances.
    • Are mortgage records up to date and balanced?
    • Have specific authorities been obtained for all new advances?
    • Have proper valuations been obtained for all new advances?
    • Have securities been registered for all new advances?
    • Have investors been notified of any defaults? (Rule 13.1)

Exceptions that require reporting in monthly certificates

Overdrawn firms’ interest in trust/float

The firm float (advance account) in the trust account was overdrawn for one day due to a staff error. How should I report this?

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.

Overdrawn trust bank account

The trust bank account became overdrawn due to a processing error.

The bank failed to credit the funds for settlement on a transaction as had been arranged. As a result, the trust account was overdrawn for a few days. Must I report this?

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.

Trust Account Supervisors

I am the TAS and going on leave - who can sign for me?

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 s44 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 TAS role is changing within the firm – what should I do next?

Notify the Law Society 

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 below).

How long is my TAS qualification valid for?

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 ideally for a period of 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.

What should I do if my TAS unexpectedly leaves my practice and I don't have a suitable short term replacement?

Apply to the Law Society at for an exemption under reg 20 of the Trust Account Regulations.

If you have any queries about monthly and quarterly certification, please email

Practicing without a trust account

I don't want to operate a trust account as my area of practice never needs one. What can I do?

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
  • 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.

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