May 13, 2020

Lawyers have raised concerns about the impact that Rule 3-58.1 (Trust account only for legal services) has had on retainers received by a lawyer who has been appointed as a mediator, arbitrator or parenting co-ordinator and who will be providing some incidental related legal services to the parties, such as the preparation of the mediation or arbitration (or related settlement) agreement.

Rule 3-58.1 prohibits lawyers from depositing to their lawyer trust account funds that are not directly related to the provision of legal services by a lawyer or law firm.

The Law Society has considered the concerns and proposes to amend the definition of “trust funds” in the Law Society Rules to provide that, for the purposes of the definition, “legal services” do not include the provision of legal services incidental to the provision of mediation, arbitration or parenting co-ordinator services by a lawyer.  This amendment will permit lawyers who act in such capacities to deposit the entire amount of a retainer for these services into an account other than the lawyer’s trust account, including the lawyer’s general account.

Lawyers are invited to read the consultation paper and submit comments to policy@lsbc.org. Feedback received before August 31, 2020 will be considered prior to making a final recommendation to the Benchers.