The Advisory: Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2012
Frequently Asked Questions about Trust Safety Program Forms
1. On the Law Firm Self-Report form, the Law Society includes questions about the General Account. Why is it interested in my General Account?
General Accounts are looked at by the Law Society if any funds are transferred from Trust Accounts.
2. Why do I need separate Visa or credit card machines for each of my General and Trust Accounts?
Any retainers which are paid to a law firm by credit or debit cards for either a trust account or a general account need to be handled on separate machines dedicated to type of account. See Rule 119.44
3. Why do we need a separate cash receipt book for small financial amounts?
Rule 119.39 specifies that every law firm which receives cash on behalf of a client for trust accounts is required to maintain a separate book of duplicate receipts.
4. Why do I need Law Society approval to sign trust withdrawals and transfers for another lawyer?
If you are not in the same law firm as the lawyer, you need Law Society approval to sign cheques for another lawyer. Rule 119.21 requires that all withdrawals and transfers from a trust account must be signed by a lawyer of the law firm, unless otherwise authorized in writing by the Executive Director.
5. Do the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation requirements apply to me even though I have an ATB account?
Rule 119.32 states that a law firm that maintains a trust account at a bank or institution which is insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation shall comply with the reporting and disclosure obligations of the CDIC Act. If a law firm has an Alberta Treasury Branch account, they are exempt from this requirement.
6. Why do I need to have an accountant review my firm’s financial records and be required to complete an Accountant’s Report?
Under Rule 119.30(5), a law firm is not required to have its financial records reviewed by an accountant, and have the accountant complete the Accountant’s Report if the law firm uses approved accounting software, and the law firm submits automated data to the Law Society within one month after the designated filing.
7. The Law Firm Self-Report form is very long. What is the purpose of some of the questions which do not appear to be related to specific rules?
We acknowledge that the Law Firm Self-Report form contains more questions than relates to the Rules. Some of the questions are suggested best practices. See Rule 119.30 (3)
8. Why is the Accountant’s Report much longer and requires more testing as this adds to the cost of the accountant?
Rule 119.30(5) specifies that if a law firm uses approved accounting software, and if the law firm submits automated data to the Law Society, then the law firm is not required to comply with subrule (4) which requires its financial records to be reviewed by an accountant and so requires the accountant to complete the Accountant’s Report.
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