External examination requirements - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

External examination requirements

Law practices and approved barristers’ clerks who operate trust accounts are required to keep trust records. These records must be examined by an external examiner (EE) each audit year. The audit year runs from 1 April – 31 March.

For the purposes of the examination, a law practice or approved clerk must provide the EE with their accounting or other records relating to the affairs of the practice or approved clerk, as well as any other information the EE reasonably requires. Penalties apply for failing to comply with these requirements.

Trust Update: Information for law practices, approved clerks and EEs

The end of trust year for Victoria has changed from 31 October 2016 to 31 March 2017. As a result, your reporting timetable will change.

Please note: EEs are no longer required to complete any end of trust year documentation by October 2016. This deadline has changed.

The trust reporting period will now run from 1 April in one year to 31 March of the following year. The purpose of this change is to align New South Wales and Victoria under the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria) and Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 which came into operation on 1 July 2015.  Practitioners in both states will now submit their end of trust audit year report after the close of the trust year on 31 March. Further information on this change is available from the Legal Services Council website.

EEs must now provide end of trust year documentation to the Board by 15 May each year.

EEs, law practices and approved clerks will be contacted directly to inform them of these changes as the end of trust audit year approaches in early 2017.

Examination on ceasing to be authorised to receive trust money

Law practices and approved clerks who cease to be authorised to receive trust money must also have their trust records examined by an EE for any part of the auditing year in which they were authorised to receive trust money. Law practices or approved clerks must also lodge examination reports for each audit year and any remaining period during which they continue to hold trust money. These reports must be lodged with the Board within 60 days after the end of the relevant examination period (See Rule 68(4) of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015).

The Act imposes heavy penalties for failing to comply with this requirement.

Approved Trust Accounting Software

Below is a list of trust accounting software providers which have been approved by the Trust Accounts Department of the NSW Law Society. These have been certified as complying with the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015, which apply to both NSW and Victoria.

  • cabenet Legal Trust Accounting Software
  • Absolute Trust & Office Management (ATOM)
  • BHL Insight
  • SILQ Solicitor 8 (for Mac and PC)
  • FilePro
  • BHL B Series
  • LEAP Office Accounting Version 10.2

The software packages listed below remain acceptable until otherwise advised.

  • Open Practice
  • LawWare Accounting
  • TimeTracer
  • Locus Practice Management Pro 2010
  • Practice Manager Pro
  • Perfect Balance
  • Sentry 21.5.65

Both Open Practice (versions ACE, ARROW and ASCENT) and Leap Office Accounting (version 10.1) have advised that they will be seeking re-certification under the Uniform Law, but have not yet applied.

Forms

Fact sheet

User Guide

Last modified June 27, 2017.