A recent case in WA has worried a lot of accountants and financial planners who use SUPERCentral. The case held that an accountant who used an online trust deed service was in breach of the West Australian Legal Practice Act.
The case does not apply to users of SUPERCentral.
In Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd (2007) Ms Frigger, a registered tax agent, was charged with contempt of the West Australian Legal Practice Act for obtaining a pro-forma trust deed from a company on the Web and then filling it out with her client’s details in order to establish the client’s SMSF. The WA Act provides that a person must not engage in legal practice unless the person is a legal practitioner and defines “engaging in legal practice” to include drawing documents intended to affect any interest in real or personal property.
Would the filling out of pro-forma documents sourced from the web constitute ‘engaging in legal practice’ in NSW, Victoria or Queensland? The legislation in those states is slightly different so it is not possible to say for sure. It is certainly open to a court in NSW, Victoria or Queensland to take the same view as the WA Court and say ‘yes it does’.
So why doesn’t this case apply to SUPERCentral?
Because SUPERCentral does not provide the adviser with a pro-forma deed to complete.
It is crucial to distinguish between downloading blank pro-forma deeds for completion yourself on the one hand as opposed to simply ordering a deed online on the other.
SUPERCentral asks the adviser to fill out an online application form. We then insert the information and create the completed document. That document is then signed off by our legal advisers TOWNSENDS BUSINESS & CORPORATE LAWYERS.
Using this system we relieve the adviser of any charge that they have engaged in legal practice.
Providing instructions online is no different than providing those instructions in any other way: snail mail, email, phone or fax. It is not the provision of the instructions that is the issue but rather who completes the document and how.
So if you are an adviser who has worried about the WA case we say simply: don’t. You can rest assured that in this area, like so many others, SUPERCentral is perfectly safe, making your life easier.