Who cares about the anti-money laundering regime? You do

Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.

Julius Caesar

Given it’s somewhat torturous gestation, it likely that the extension of the anti-money laundering regime (AML) to solicitors is seen by some of us as a bit like cold fusion – always 20 years away. Certainly it is what many wish to believe, and as Caesar notes, we are quick to believe such things; given that he started out as a lawyer, he may be worth heeding.

In any event, while cold fusion may be no closer, brace yourselves – AML is coming. Indeed, it is already here, and it is now being extended to ‘tranche 2’ services: people like accountants, trust and company service providers, real estate agents – and lawyers.

Lest you think that it will only apply to conveyancing lawyers, think again. Any lawyer who might receive a sum of money in the course of legal work that isn’t for legal fees – wills and estate lawyers, personal injuries lawyers, family lawyers, just to name a few – will be covered by AML. This means it is imperative that lawyers and law firms start getting their heads around it and preparing for its inevitable implementation.

Queensland Law Society has produced a comprehensive suite of resources in relation to AML, and is actively involved in the consultation process with government in relation to the second stage consultation papers. The Society will be working with the Law Council of Australia to ensure that the concerns of Queensland’s solicitors are brought to the attention of government, and to attempt to ensure that the resultant AML is workable, effective and not overly onerous.


In the meantime, practitioners should familiarise themselves with the above resources and turn their minds to what they will need to do to comply with the regime. Whatever the final outcome, it is certain that there will be an increase in reporting requirements and compliance measures by law firms, and the time to start preparing for this now.

The imposition of AML on solicitors is a certainty, and nothing – not even a change in government – is likely to derail it; we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand on this. AML is coming, and we need to be ready.

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