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Friday, December 20, 2013

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In this issue:
Protection of Trust Accounts
The Notaries and Commissioners Act

Protection of Trust Accounts

The Law Society of Alberta has noticed a recent increase in the number of fraudulent attempts to compromise lawyers trust accounts. To better protect yourself and your firm please make note of the following:

    1. Fraudulent cheques provided to The Law Society indicate excellent forged signatures of the responsible lawyer and were identical to the actual trust cheque. The only indicator was that the trust cheque number was out of sequence. The cheque sequence irregularity was picked up during the firm's monthly reconciliation;
    2. Familiarize yourself with your banks' policies, in particular the grace period your bank allows to report discrepancies in your trust account. One incident brought to the attention of The Law Society indicated that the firm’s bank had a 30-day grace period to report account discrepancies. The firm did not advise their bank within the 30-day grace period and as a consequence may have suffered the financial loss. Discussions are still ongoing between the firm and their bank;

    3. Your firm may want to consider a more frequent audit of your trust account by going online and ensuring the trust account appears in order. This will help identify any discrepancies in your trust account on a timely basis.

    4. Know your client in the broadest sense. Is it possible that your client may associate with or be involved in criminal activity? There are many reasons why a person may allow a trust cheque you have provided to them to be duplicated. If you have concerns verify your trust account on a regular basis.

Should your firm’s trust account be compromised please phone the Law Society of Alberta Trust Safety department at (780) 412-2674.

Should your firm have any questions pertaining to fraud, fraudulent schemes or would like further information on how to discourage fraudsters from targeting you or your firm please call Mike Martin,- Risk Assessment Officer at (403) 229-4778 or (403) 700-1069.”


The Notaries and Commissioners Act

The Notaries and Commissioners Act was passed by the Legislature in December 2013 and will come into force on proclamation which is anticipated to be later in 2014, following the development of Regulations.

The Notaries Public Act and the Commissioners for Oaths Act have been modernized and consolidated into one Act.

Changes include:
    • increasing the maximum fines so that they are in line with other Acts 
    • flexibility in the discipline process
    • a provision for the development of a code of conduct in the Regulations 
    • a certificate for a guarantee under the Guarantees Acknowledgement Act, is to be completed by a lawyer 
    • removal of the $5 fee in the Guarantees Acknowledgement Act

Additional information on these legislative amendments can be found at:

Watch for further notices to the profession regarding a proclamation date.


New Bencher - Walter Pavlic, QC

The Law Society of Alberta welcomes new Bencher - Walter Pavlic, QC.

Walter received his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta. Walter specializes in Labour and Employment Law, including numerous appearances before the Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, Administrative Tribunals and arbitrators.  Walter currently practices at MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP in Edmonton.


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Law Society of Alberta
Calgary Office
Suite 500, 919 11th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta T2R 1P3
Phone: 403-229-4700

Edmonton Office
Suite 800, Bell Tower
10104-103 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 0H8
Phone: 780-429-3343

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