The Queensland Law Society Council has approved a policy for Part 3.3 (Trust Account) Investigations.
Part 3.3 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 requires the Society to conduct these investigations.
The policy, which commenced operation on 1 September 2020, sets out the Society’s process of regulating trust accounting, what it looks for, how it determines compliance and non-compliance, and the consequences of these.
This is not a change in the law of trust accounting, but in its administration.
The change has been occasioned by increasing levels of non-compliance out of proportion to the annual increase in the number of law practices. While the number of law practices that are detected for the first time to be non-compliant has increased in line with the increase in the number of law practices, the number of practices that remain non-compliant over subsequent investigations has increased out of proportion to the increase in the number of law practices.
Since 2014/15 the number of law practices has increased by 30%, yet the number of non-compliant law practices over subsequent investigations has increased 200% (53 to 150).
This policy is a signal change from the previous process of revisiting a non-compliant practice until they become compliant. It establishes a regime of identifying non-compliance, offering assistance to reach compliance, testing compliance and if necessary sanctioning non-compliance.
All law practices will be contacted and advised of the effect of the policy upon their next review.