Lawyers not to accept $7,500 or more in cash trust deposits

June 9, 2005

At their June meeting, the Benchers amended Law Society Rule 3-51.1 and related rules to stipulate that BC lawyers must not accept $7,500 or more in cash (down from the previous threshold of $10,000 or more) in any one client matter or transaction.

Last year the Law Society of BC became the first law society in Canada to adopt a limit on trust funds that lawyers can receive in cash. This step demonstrated the legal profession's commitment to guard against their trust accounts being used in money laundering or fraudulent schemes. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada proposed a model rule for consistency across the country. BC's provisions, as most recently revised, reflect the model rule.

BC lawyers are accordingly prohibited from accepting an aggregate amount of $7,500 Canadian or more in cash in one client matter or transaction, other than from a law enforcement agency; pursuant to a court order; from a financial institution or public body; to pay a fine or penalty; or (when acting as in-house counsel) on behalf of one's employer. A lawyer is permitted to receive $7,500 or more in cash for professional fees, disbursements, expenses or bail. However, if the lawyer subsequently refunds all or part of that cash retainer, any refund of $1,000 or more must be in cash.

Details on these changes will be included in the upcoming Benchers' Bulletin. The revised rules (3-47, 3-51.1, 3-56(1.3), 3-60 and 3-61.1) are available on the Law Society website and will be distributed as part of the next Member's Manual amendment package.