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Posted on March 1st 2009 in Legal Articles

Client Identification Rules

Client Identification Rules

Beginning in 2009, lawyers in Ontario must comply with new client identification and verification requirements. Since most lawyers have trust accounts there is concern that lawyers could become targets of those wishing to launder money.

The Law Society’s Rules require that lawyers identify any individual who retains them to provide legal services. In addition, lawyers must generally identify any third party beneficiary or principal for whom the client acts or represents. Lawyers are required to obtain a full name, business address and phone number, if any, home address and phone number as well as the occupation(s) of the client and third party.

In the case of corporations, partnerships or trusts, lawyers must obtain the organization’s full name, business address and phone number, business identification number, type of business and the name, position and contact information of individuals who are authorized to provide instruction.

If a lawyer is receiving, paying or transferring funds on behalf of the client or third party, the lawyer is under an additional obligation to verify the identity of the client and third party by obtaining and reviewing original government issued identification. The exceptions to this rule are if the other party is a financial institution, public body, public company, a trust account of another lawyer, a court ordered sum, or a legal settlement.