Trust Accounts

If you or your practice (in any form) receives trust money that is required to be deposited in a trust account, you must establish and maintain a general trust account in this jurisdiction with an approved authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI). 

The account type must be a Statutory Trust Account and the ADI’s currently approved are:

  • Adelaide & Bendigo Bank
  • ANZ
  • BankSA
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • Macquarie Bank
  • National Australia Bank
  • Westpac

It is important to remember that there are requirements under Schedule 1 Part 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 which must be observed as well as those under the Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014. Importantly, in accordance with regulation 19(2) the name of the trust account must contain 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”, unless the words “law practice” already form part of the name or business name of the law practice.  

If you require assistance in relation to applying the trust accounting requirements, the Society holds regular Trust Accounting Courses.  For information about those courses, click here.  The Society also publishes a trust accounting handbook, which is available in soft or hard copy, here. Direct assistance can be obtained by contacting one of our Law Practice Compliance Investigators on (08) 8229 0229.

The following details of the account must be provided to the Society in writing within 14 days of opening any trust account by lodging a Form T:

  • name of ADI and their BSB
  • account name
  • account number
  • names of all persons authorised to operate the account

As soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, a law practice must have its trust records for that year externally examined by an external examiner appointed in accordance with the regulations.

A law practice should appoint a designated person as external examiner, allowing sufficient time in order to comply with the requirements of clause 34(1) of Schedule 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981; and must provide written notification of the appointment to the Law Society, within two months of the appointment of the designated person as an external examiner, using Form J which can be downloaded here.

Only persons that are granted designated person status by the Society can be appointed by legal practitioners to conduct external examinations of legal practitioner trust accounts. They must agree to the appointment in writing.  The Law Society maintains a list of the designated persons you may appoint as your external examiner.

You are required to liaise with your external examiner to ensure that you provide as much information as the examiner requires to complete their report.  The report must then be provided to the Society by the examiner as soon as practicable on or after 31 October following the financial year to which the report relates.

A list of Designated Persons under clause 33 of Schedule 2 to the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 can be found here.
The Law Society has an Irregularity Report Form, for a Law practice/practitioner to report irregularities and suspected irregularities.

When do I need to complete this form?

As soon as practicable after a legal practitioner of a law practice becomes aware that there is an irregularity in any of the law practice’s trust account(s) or trust ledger accounts, the law practice must give written notice of the irregularity to the Society (clause 24 of Schedule 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981).

Clause 24 also applies where a legal practitioner believes on reasonable grounds that then is an irregularity in connection with the receipt, recording or disbursement of any trust money received by a law practice of which the practitioner is not a legal practitioner associate.  The practitioner must report the irregularity to the Society as soon as practicable after he or she forms the belief an irregularity has occurred.  

A practitioner is not excused from reporting the irregularity on the ground that giving the notice may tend to incriminate another practitioner.

Please note that serious irregularities including misappropriation, fraud, theft of trust funds, placing a trust account ledger or trust bank account into a deficit or overdraw position, may need immediate action and must be reported immediately to the Society by contacting Ethics and Practice on 8229 0229 or sending an email to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au.

Commence Form
The combined trust account (CTA) is a statutory pooled account maintained at the head office of each approved bank.  Section 53 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (Act) provides that twice each year, within 14 days after 31 May and 30 November money must be deposited from each law practice’s general trust account into the CTA.

The amount of the required deposit is calculated by means of a formula provided in the Act. Members can use the Law Society Combined Trust Account Calculator to assist in calculating the required deposit by clicking on the button below.
 
A deposit is not required if the lowest aggregate balance during the calculation period is less than $10,000; or if it is known that the funds will be required to meet an immediate claim, or maintain a reasonable balance.

If the required deposit amount is to be withheld, a written notice of withholding must be submitted to the Society by 14 June or 14 December.  The notice of withholding must be submitted online by clicking on the button below.

If the law practice fails to make the required deposit by the due date, or fails to provide a written notice of withholding it may be liable to pay interest on the outstanding amount, calculated at the prescribed rate for the period of default.

For further information, please refer to section 53 of the Act and the Society’s trust account handbook.
 
CTA Calculator (Members Only)         Notice of Withholding

 


The LSSA Trust Accounting system is an online trust recording system designed for you to use anywhere, anytime.


Key Features

  • 24/7 Secure online website access with daily back up of data

  • As easy to use as Internet Banking

  • No software installation

  • Free Help Desk access and online manual

  • Compliant with the South Australian Legal Practitioners Act 1981 and Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014

  • Quick and easy Bank Reconciliation feature

  • Quick and easy access to reports, client contact, management of receipts, payments and transfers. 

  • Read only access for an External Examiner (Auditor) 

  • Up to 20 users per law practice with two types of access (Read & Record or Read only)

  • Free updates to system completed automatically


The Trust Account Online portal can be accessed through https://ta.lawsocietysa.asn.au/. Application forms, software demos and training videos can be downloaded directly from the Trust Accounting Online page.

Please contact Ethics and Practice on 82290229 or send an email to 
ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au with any queries.
The Law Society Trust Account Handbook is a comprehensive and easy to understand guide to the statutory trust accounting requirements contained in the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 and the Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014. It is of relevance to all personnel, both legal and non-legal, engaged in the handling of trust money received by a law practice, and provides step by step instructions on all of the relevant statutory provisions. You can purchase an electronic version of the Handbook for $44 and a hard copy version for $66.  Please contact Ethics and Practice on 82290229 or send an email to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au to order your copy. Law Society Members can purchase the electronic handbook online and receive instant access by clicking here.
The Law Society Trust Account Receipt Book provides law practices who receive trust money with trust account receipts that specifically comply with the trust account receipting requirements in Legal Practitioners Act 1981 and the Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014. You can purchase a book of 200 receipts for $44. Please contact Ethics and Practice on 82290229 or send an email to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au to order. Law Society Members can order receipt books online by clicking here.
Agent Deposits View 
Combined Trust Account View
Withdrawing Trust Money for Legal Costs
(Regulation 45 of the Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014)
View
Designated Persons Criteria, Conditions and Protocol View
Payment of Court Fees by Credit/Debit Card View
Intra-Firm Transfers Between General trust Accounts View 
Payment of Money from Trust - Authority Required for Paying Disbursements   View 
Receiving payments from the Legal Services Commission View
Receiving payments from Return to Work SA and its agents View
Regulation 56 Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014 Exemptions View
Please contact Ethics and Practice on 82290229 or send an email to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au with any queries.