Regulation 16 (1) of the Legal Profession (Accounts and Records) Regulations 1999 requires every attorney-at-law to deliver an Accountant’s Report to the Council for each year of his practice unless he files a declaration which satisfies the Council that owing to the circumstances of his case it is unnecessary or impractical for him to do so.
The only exception relates to attorneys employed by the Government or by a local or statutory authority in relation to his or her practice as an attorney in that employment. ATTORNEYS SHOULD ADVISE THE GLC IF THEY ARE SO EMPLOYED. An attorney employed by Government or by a local or statutory authority who also carries on a private practice outside of that employment must nevertheless comply with Regulation 16(1).
The Accountant’s Report is prepared by an accountant. It must be in the form prescribed by the Regulations and is aimed at showing that the attorney maintains proper books and records with respect to his handling of client’s funds. A Declaration may be appropriate where an attorney-at-law has not handled client’s funds for the year to which the Declaration relates. The Declaration must also be in the form prescribed by the Regulations.
THE ACCOUNTANT’S REPORT OR DECLARATION MUST BE FILED NOT LATER THAN SIX MONTHS AFTER THE COMMENCEMENT OF ANY FINANCIAL YEAR, BEING JUNE 30 IN EACH YEAR, unless the attorney recognizes a different period as his financial year.
CLIENT’S FUNDS includes any monies received by an attorney-at-law that belongs to or is held on a client’s behalf or to his or another person’s direction or order and includes money advanced to an attorney on account of fees for services not yet rendered or of disbursements not yet made.
Each attorney not falling within the exception must therefore either deliver an Accountant’s Report or, if appropriate, file a Declaration for each year of practice since 1999.
An attorney who has not complied with this regulation for any year of his practice since 1999 is therefore in breach of the Regulations, is not in good standing and has committed an act of professional misconduct.
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE ENCOURAGED TO CHECK ON THE STATUS OF ATTORNEYS-AT-LAW WITH WHOM THEY ARE ENTRUSTING THEIR FUNDS.
Information as to whether an attorney-at-law has delivered an accountant’s report or filed a declaration can be obtained by calling the General Legal Council at 922-2319, 967-1206, 967-1528 OR 967-3688 or by contacting the Secretary of the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Manager, Investigations Division at email@example.com for additional information.
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