FAQs

Receiving trust money FAQ

Profession

 
1. I am a principal of a law practice that does not operates a trust account. Can I be authorised to receive trust money?
 
Not as part of this current process. If you can demonstrate that you have the requisite skills and experience to operate a trust account then there will be opportunity in the future for you to apply to have the condition authorising the receipt of trust money.
 
The Board will publish a policy for the process and skills you need to be able to demonstrate competency in operating a trust account.
 
2. I’m currently in the middle of the approved practice management course? Will I get authorised automatically?
 
No you will not. Upon completion of the practice management course, and in particular the trust account module, you may apply to the Board to have your practising certificate amended to impose the condition allowing the receipt of trust money. You will not be authorised to receive trust money unless your law practice is going to operate a trust account.
 
If you already have a varied PMC condition and you have opened a trust account you will be required to complete the trust account module within a specified period of time. You should contact the Board to go through the requirements.
 
3. I am intending to begin the approved practice management course very soon. Can I be authorised to receive trust money now?
 
Not yet, however the requirement that you complete an approved trust account course is not likely to impede you becoming a principal with a varied PMC condition, limiting only that the law practice will not be able to open a trust account.
 
After 30 June 2022, if your law practice already operates a trust account it is likely that you will need to complete an approved trust account course before the PMC condition will be varied.
 
4. I am thinking to become a sole practitioner. Can I be authorised to receive trust money conditionally before I complete the approved practice management course?
 
No, please see question 3 above.
 
5. The PMC condition was never imposed on my practising certificate and I have never operated a trust account. I am a principal of a law practice. Can I be authorised to receive trust money?

Please see question 1 above. You may apply to the Board to have your practising certificate amended to impose the condition allowing the receipt of trust money once you have demonstrated either completion of an approved trust account course or requisite skills and experience.
 
6. What course do I need to complete to be allowed to receive trust money?
 
The Board has published a list of approved trust accounting courses that meet the Board requirements under the current policy. A link to a list of approved courses is attached here.
 
7Do you have a policy on the condition to receive trust money I can refer to? 

A link to the public statement authorising the receipt of trust money can be found here.  
 
8. What do I do if I am a principal of a law practice and I do not want to be authorised to receive trust money?
 
If you are a principal of a law practice that operates a trust account you must be authorised to receive trust money.

If you are a principal of a law practice that does not operate a trust account you will not be authorised to receive trust money.
 
9. Can only principals be authorised to receive trust money?
 
Under the Legal Profession Act 2008, only principals can be authorised to receive trust money.  
 
However, under the Uniform Law other Australian legal practitioners can be authorised to receive trust money.  All practitioners must either be authorised or not authorised to receive trust money. The Board is developing a policy on this issue.
 
10. What does it mean to be authorised to receive trust money? Do I need to be accountable for every transaction?
 
Each law practice that operates a trust account must have at least one principal authorised to receive trust money under the Legal Profession Act 2008. 

However, all principals, whether under the Legal Profession Act 2008 or the Uniform Law, are responsible for the transactions on that trust account. Any person who receives trust money on behalf of the law practice must be an Australian legal practitioner and must be authorised to receive trust money. 
 
All principals of a law practice operating a trust account under the Uniform Law will be required to be authorised to receive trust money.
 
11. When do I need a condition authorising me to receive trust money in place?
 
If you are currently a principal of a law practice operating a trust account you will need the Authorising Condition on your practising certificate now, before the Uniform Law commences.
 
All other practitioners will only need a condition authorising the receipt of trust money on their practising certificate if they become a principal before or after 30 June 2022, or if they intend to receive trust money after 30 June 2022.
 
12. Can my administrative staff disburse trust money for my law practice?
 
See question 11 above. After 30 June 2022 only authorised principals, other authorised legal practitioners, or authorised associates of the practice, either legal or non-legal, will be able to disburse trust money from the law practice trust account.
 
Only the Board can authorise an associate of the law practice to receive and process trust money.
 
13. Why is this change necessary now?
 
The only changes now are:
 
(a) The imposition of the Authorising Condition on the practising certificate of principals of a law practice operating a trust account.
 
(b) Practitioners who intend becoming principals from now on will be required to complete an approved trust account course before they can open or operate a trust account.
 
The Board’s policy in this regard is to maintain the integrity of a law practice trust account as consumers of legal services are entitled to expect proper management for the safekeeping of their money. Lawyers who are entitled to receive trust money have a fiduciary duty to those persons on whose behalf it is held. By ensuring a principal has the requisite skills and knowledge to properly manage a trust account the risk of improper use or detriment to the consumers of legal services in WA whose money is being held on trust.