Controlled money accounts

Controlled money accounts (CMA) are subject to specific requirements under the Legal Profession Uniform Law (WA) (LPUL) and Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 (LPUGR).

Controlled money

Controlled money is defined in section 128 of the LPUL as money received or held by a law practice where the practice has a written direction to deposit the money in an account (other than a general trust account) over which the practice has or will have exclusive control.

Written directions

A written direction must be obtained from a person on whose behalf the money was received (for example, the client) before money can be deposited to, or withdrawn from, a CMA.

If no written direction is held, the law practice must first deposit the money into the general trust account pending written instructions from the person entitled to the funds.

It may be prudent for the written direction to have the details of the matter, reason for the investment, name of the ADI and the type of account (e.g. type of product that an ADI offers) inserted in the direction given to the law practice or type of ADI account.

Maintenance of CMA accounts

A controlled money account must include:

  1. the name of the law practice
  2. the expression “controlled money account” or the abbreviation “CMA” or “CMA/c”
  3. particulars that identify the purpose of the account and distinguish it from any other account maintained by the law practice.

Withdrawal must be authorised

The client’s written direction is required to withdraw money from a CMA. A withdrawal of money from a CMA must be effected, under the direction of or with the authority of specific persons. Controlled money can be drawn from the controlled money account only by cheque or electronic funds transfer.

Monthly listing of controlled money accounts

The law practice is required to prepare a statement listing its controlled money accounts as at the end of each month detailing:

  1. the name, number and balance of each controlled money account held in the register
  2. The name of the person on whose behalf the controlled money in each account was held; and
  3. A short description of the matter to which each account relates; and
  4. The date the statement was prepared.

The law practice must prepare the statement within 15 working days after the end of each month. This statement must be reviewed by a principal of the law practice who is authorised to receive trust money and that review must be evidenced on the statement.

Trust account statements – CMA

A law practice must give a trust account statement to each person on whose behalf trust money is controlled by the law practice. The statement should be furnished as soon as practicable after the completion of the relevant matter, or after receiving a reasonable request.

General trust accounts

General trust account

A law practice that receives trust money must establish and maintain a general trust account(s) at an Authorised Deposit Taking Institution (ADI) in Western Australia. The general trust account opened by the law practice:

  1. must be established with an authorised ADI
  2. must include in the account’s name the name of the law practice or the business name under which the law practice engages in legal practice, and the expression “law practice trust account” or “law practice trust a/c”.

Establishment and closure

The law practice must give the Legal Practice Board notice within 14 days of the establishment or closure of any general trust account. The written notice should include:

  1. the date the trust account opened or closed
  2. the name of the bank and the BSB and account number
  3. the name of the account
  4. bank statements confirming a nil balance for a trust account closed.

External Examiner’s Report

Trust records must be externally examined at least once in each financial year by an External Examiner approved by the Board and paid for by the practice. The External Examiner must provide the Board a written report of the examination. The report must include an examination of all general trust accounts and accounts where trust money was held (e.g. controlled money accounts and account subject of a power) that have been opened or closed by the law practice during the reporting period.

Where a trust account is closed during the financial year, a written report for the part year is required, unless the trust account funds are transferred to a new ADI and there is no change in the ownership or structure of the legal practice. In such instances the report is prepared for the financial year for both the old and the new trust account.

Final External Examination

If the law practice ceases to be authorised to receive trust money (including controlled money and trust money subject to a power) or ceases to engage in legal practice, the practice must arrange an External Examiner to prepare a final External Examiner’s Report. The report is required to be lodged with the Board within 60 days after the end of the period to which the examination relates.


Controlled Money Account (CMA) Checklist (PDF form)