The Law Society has adopted amendments to its client identification and verification rules, as well as accounting rules governing the receipt of cash and the permitted use of lawyers’ trust accounts. The changes take effect in Alberta on September 30, 2019.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (the Federation) and its member law societies have been actively engaged in fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities for over 15 years.The Federation has approved a Model Code of Professional Conduct that has been implemented by a number of law societies and is under review by others. Within the Model Code, there are Rules that seek to limit the handling of cash by lawyers and ensure that legal counsel engage in due diligence in identifying their clients. These measures have been the cornerstone of legal regulators’ anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing initiatives.
In October 2018, the Federation approved amendments to the model client identification rules which govern client identification and verification, cash transactions, and permitted uses of lawyers’ trust accounts. These amendments formed the basis for changes to our Rules in Alberta (Rules 118.1 through 118.10, 119(1), 119.17 and 119.38) which were approved at the April Board meeting.
The Law Society’s Rules and Code of Conduct address the conduct of lawyers and prohibit them from assisting anyone to commit an illegal act, including money laundering and terrorist financing. By adhering to these fundamental principles, lawyers help prevent crime and maintain public trust in the justice system.
We will provide resources to Alberta lawyers to assist them in implementing the Anti-Money Laundering and Client Identification Rule amendments in their practices. If you have additional questions, please contact the Practice Advisors; we are here to help.