Coronavirus – Practical help for law firms. Dealing with cheques received in the post
In our next blog looking at some of the many queries received from our clients through our Ask Teal service, we consider how to deal with client money received in the post during a lockdown period.
Question: How do we deal with depositing cheques received in the post during this period?
Prior to the changes introduced in November 2019, the SRA rules required you to deposit monies received from clients essentially the same day or the next working day. The new SRA Accounts Rules now require you to do this “promptly”. Many firms have left their policies unchanged as they are satisfied that next day banking constitutes “prompt”. Other firms in smaller locations have taken the opportunity to amend their processes for paying money in to deposit within three working days. You will of course need to factor in the delay of post being redirected (if this is the case) and accessing banking facilities. We presume that banks will remain open for the foreseeable future and many banks do, of course, now offer facilities enabling you to bank cheques outside of the bank premises if you have a card for use with an account. Whatever your circumstances, you will need to ensure that cheques are identified quickly so that any banking can take place as soon as possible in the circumstances.
The SRA has now issued guidance on this point and said that if you are delayed in depositing any cheques as a result of the impact of Coronavirus on your firm or your bank, they would expect you to keep clients updated as to their position. They also state that you should document any decisions you make and that they will take any mitigating factors into consideration in the event they receive a complaint. The SRA recommends that you look at other banking options so client money can continue to be dealt effectively, such as requesting electronic payments where possible.