Client account withdrawals 2019—law firms
Client account withdrawals 2019—law firms

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Client account withdrawals 2019—law firms
  • Terminology
  • Operating a client account and handling client money
  • Withdrawals from client account
  • Providing banking facilities to clients
  • Client money used to pay costs
  • Systems and controls
  • Checks by reporting accountant
  • Responsibility for compliance
  • Breach reporting

This Practice Note sets out the requirements of the SRA Accounts Rules 2019, in force from 25 November 2019, regarding client account withdrawals. It also reflects supporting guidance issued by the SRA:

  1. Helping you keep accurate client accounting records

  2. Planning for and completing an accountant’s report

  3. Taking money for your firm’s costs

See also Precedents: Accounts manual for accounts or finance team—law firms 2019 and Accounts manual for staff—law firms 2019, which includes a section on client account withdrawals. These are supplemented by annexes Procedure for client account withdrawals and Register of approved signatories.

The Accounts Rules 2019 (2019 Rules) are much more concise than the Accounts Rules 2011 (2011 Rules), comprising just over six pages of rules plus a three-page glossary. This does mean a lot of detail is lost, but some of this has been incorporated into the supporting guidance. Generally, however, the 2019 Rules are written in clear language that is easy to understand.

Terminology

The 2019 Rules are littered with subjective terms such as ‘promptly’, ‘fair’ and ‘appropriate’. The SRA acknowledges that this requires an exercise of judgment, which will be an adjustment for many firms compared to the detailed and prescriptive 2011 Rules. However, the SRA does not think this is sufficient justification for retaining highly-prescriptive rules.

The SRA acknowledges that what is appropriate may change over time. According to the SRA, this

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