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Information for external examiners

Frequently asked questions about the external examination process:

Please note: In line with social distancing measures in place in Victoria, external examiners should be completing their trust account examinations remotely or via ‘virtual’ examinations.

Will filing dates for examinations be changed due to the impact of COVID-19?

As it stands parts A and B are due on 30 April 2020, and the external examiner report is due on 31 May 2020. These dates are set by the Legal Services Council and there is no plan at this stage to change those reporting dates or grant extensions to comply. This reporting provides vital information about who is dealing with trust money and how records are being kept, and is linked directly to the annual renewal of practising certificates.

The 30 April deadline is approaching for the submission of Parts A and B of the examination process but the law practice will not meet the deadline. What should we do?

LSB Online will remain available for the law practice to submit Parts A and B and they will be accepted. These should be completed as soon as possible to allow the Examiner to complete their report by 31 May 2020.

The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner has advised external examiners to conduct remote audits. What advice can you give on auditing law practices with paper-based files and trust records?

Depending on what resources are available to the law practice they can scan and send documents to you, photograph documents by phone and send them to you or have documents couriered to you. We understand that this may mean examinations are not as thorough as usual and we accept this. Use your own judgement and common sense about how much material to ask a law practice to supply.

I have implemented an off-site audit process with an online portal to upload supporting documents and video conferencing. Is this acceptable?

This is a fantastic way to overcome difficulties experienced due to the social distancing rules in place.

What should I do if I’m expecting to experience delays because the law firm I examine has poor record management?

Start your process early to give the law practice the maximum amount of time to retrieve records. You may need to limit the number of records you ask for if files are stored off-site and electronic copies are not available.

Do I need to review a whole matter file?

If this is difficult because the file is not available electronically you can request key documents from a file matter, such as certain receipts or copy of payment details, rather than reviewing a whole matter file.

What if the law practice does not comply with my requests?

Most law practices will be working remotely so you may experience difficulties contacting them. If you cannot contact them by phone or email please contact us at: trustgroup@lsbc.vic.com.au

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