Important updates from the Society's Regulation Department are listed here as well as information regarding Reporting Accountant Reports and Regulations.
Reporting Accountant’s Reports and Regulations
Form - accounting periods after 1 December 2014
For all accounting periods commencing on or after 1 December 2014, please use the form Reporting Accountant’s Report 2014.
Before you submit the Reporting Accountants Report, please ensure you have competed the form correctly - read the checklist before submission.
If you have a query, read our Frequently Asked Questions on Reporting Accountant's Reports.
Before 1 December 2014
For accounting periods commencing in November 2014 or earlier, please contact our Regulation Department for a form.
Guidance: Banking Arrangements - January 2014
The Government introduced a guarantee of bank liabilities on 30 September 2008, for a period of two years, which was succeeded by the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme, which protected deposits in excess of €100,000. The Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme ended on 28th March 2013 with respect to any new deposits, thus considerably reducing the protection afforded to deposits held in solicitors' client accounts in the event of loss due to the insolvency of a bank.
The Deposit Guarantee Scheme continues to provide protection for retail deposits up to €100,000. This is a guarantee by the State and does not have an end date. Information on the Deposit Guarantee Scheme is available on www.centralbank.ie.
The Law Society is advised that the 1995 Regulations (SI 368 of 1995) governing the Deposit Guarantee Scheme provide that where a person maintains a deposit in a capacity as a trustee, the beneficiary is entitled to compensation as if the money was a deposit in a separate account in the name of the beneficiary.
The Regulations governing Deposit Guarantee Scheme do not specifically mention client accounts. However, the Law Society is advised that the underlying EU Directive (94/19/EC) to which the Regulations are meant to give effect to states: “Where the depositor is not absolutely entitled to the sums held in an account, the person who is absolutely entitled shall be covered by the guarantee.”
Furthermore, guidance on the Deposit Guarantee Scheme provided by the Central Bank on its website goes further by stating that money held in trust or in client accounts by solicitors and other professionals may be eligible if the underlying beneficiaries are eligible in their own right. The Law Society is advised that whilst this is correct with regard to trust accounts, there appears to be no legislative basis for the statement with regard to solicitors' accounts (other than trust accounts).
The Law Society has been in correspondence with the Department of Finance to request that the Regulations governing the Deposit Guarantee Scheme be amended to provide protection for individual clients of solicitors. The Department has informed the Law Society that the Minister acknowledges the Law Society’s concerns and the need to amend the legislation. An amendment is likely at the time the new EU Directive on Deposit Guarantee Schemes is transposed into Irish regulations, which is expected to be during 2014. The Department has stated that the Central Bank has confirmed that should a relevant situation arise, it intends paying appropriate compensation to any eligible beneficiary whose funds are held in a solicitor client account.
A list of banks licensed to take deposits is available on www.centralbank.ie. Solicitors are reminded that under the Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2001 (SI 421 of 2001) clients' moneys can be deposited only in a bank, or a branch thereof, situated in the State.
While the Law Society does not provide legal advice, it is advised that a solicitor placing clients' moneys with a bank eligible to hold client moneys in accordance with the requirements of the Solicitors Acts and the Solicitors Accounts Regulations is unlikely to incur liability to his or her client in the event that all or any part of the clients' moneys are lost due the bank's insolvency.
However, as there is no precedent, the Society cannot say that the matter is beyond doubt and the Society would recommend that each solicitor obtains agreement from his or her client with regard to the lodgment of moneys in a bank. The form of agreement specified under the heading Your Money in the Law Society’s precedent Terms and Conditions for Legal Services should be appropriate. This precedent can be accessed in the Precedents area of the site.
Office Account bank cheques - February 2013
It has recently come to the attention of the Law Society that one of the financial institutions has advised their customers that they would no longer be returning the original of paid office bank account cheques.
The Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2001 as amended sets out the minimum accounting records which a solicitor should maintain in Regulation 20. Regulation 20(1)(f) requires a solicitor to maintain “the original of each paid cheque drawn on each client account, controlled trust account and non-controlled trust account, regularly procured by the solicitor from his or her bank or banks and maintained and kept by the solicitor in numerical sequence, together with the corresponding cheque stubs or requisition dockets.”
There is no requirement to maintain the same in relation to office bank account cheques.
In order to ensure continued compliance with the Regulations, each solicitor must ensure that their financial institution continue to return the original client account bank cheques.
The majority of practices did, as a matter of good practice, also obtain the return of the original office account cheques. The return of these office account cheques would appear to be a matter of private arrangement between the practice and their bank.