Cash Limits and Exceptions, Definitions

The Law Society limits the amount of cash that lawyers and paralegals can accept, to help prevent money laundering. What is the definition of cash?
How much cash can a lawyer or paralegal accept from a client?
How much cash can be accepted if the lawyer or paralegal is acting for more than one client on a file?
If a client provides a lawyer or paralegal with $15,000 Canadian cash for three unrelated matters, can he or she accept the cash?
How much cash can a lawyer or paralegal accept in foreign currency?
When does the prohibition against accepting a total of $7,500 or more in cash apply?
Are there any exceptions to the prohibition against accepting a total of $7,500 or more in cash with respect to one client file?
For purposes of the exception to the limit of cash that a lawyer or paralegal can accept, what is the definition of a public body?


Q: The Law Society limits the amount of cash that lawyers and paralegals can accept, to help prevent money laundering. What is the definition of cash?

A: For the purposes of By-Law 9 [s. 1(1)], cash means
• current coin within the meaning of the Currency Act
• notes intended for circulation in Canada issued by the Bank of Canada pursuant to the Bank of Canada Act, and
• current coin or bank notes of countries other than Canada
Note that bank drafts, money orders, electronic or wire transfers of funds are not considered cash for purposes of the By-Law.

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Q: How much cash can a lawyer or paralegal accept from a client?

A: Lawyers and paralegals may only accept less than a total of $7,500 Canadian with respect to any one client file [By-Law 9, s. 4(1)]. This includes the client or any third party providing cash on behalf of the client. A lawyer or paralegal is prohibited from accepting any more than this limit unless one of the exceptions set out in s. 6 of By-Law 9 applies.

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 Q: How much cash can be accepted if the lawyer or paralegal is acting for more than one client on a file?

A: A lawyer or paralegal is permitted to accept less than a total of $7,500 Canadian, regardless of how many clients he or she represents in the matter, because the receipt of cash relates to one client file.

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 Q: If a client provides a lawyer or paralegal with $15,000 Canadian cash for three unrelated matters, can he or she accept the cash?

A: A lawyer or paralegal is permitted to accept the cash for three separate client matters, as long as the amount of cash provided for each individual matter itself is less than a total of $7,500 Canadian.

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 Q: How much cash can a lawyer or paralegal accept in foreign currency?

A: A lawyer or paralegal who receives foreign currency will be deemed to have received it in an amount as converted into Canadian funds in accordance with a formula set out in By-Law 9, s. 4(2). If the amount of foreign currency as converted is a total of $7,500 or more the lawyer or paralegal is prohibited from accepting it unless one of the exceptions set out in s. 5.6 of By-Law 9 applies.

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 Q: When does the prohibition against accepting a total of $7,500 or more in cash apply?

A: The prohibition applies when a lawyer or paralegal engages in or gives instruction on the following activities, with respect to a client file [By-Law 9, s. 5]
• the lawyer or paralegal receives or pays funds
• the lawyer or paralegal transfers funds by any means
• the lawyer or paralegal purchases or sells securities, real properties or business assets or entities

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Q: Are there any exceptions to the prohibition against accepting a total of $7,500 or more in cash with respect to one client file?

A: Yes. The prohibition does not apply when the lawyer or paralegal [By-Law 9, s. 6]
• receives cash from a public body, an authorized foreign bank within the meaning of section 2 of the Bank Act (Canada) in respect of its business in Canada or a bank to which the Bank Act (Canada) applies, a cooperative credit society, savings and credit union or caisse populaire that is regulated by a provincial Act, an association that is regulated by the Cooperative Credit Associations Act(Canada), a company to which the Trust and Loan Companies Act (Canada) applies, a trust company or loan company regulated by a provincial Act or a department or agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada or of a province where the department or agent accepts deposit liabilities in the course of providing financial services to the public
• receives cash from a peace officer, law enforcement agency or other agent of the Crown acting in an official capacity
• receives cash pursuant to an order of a tribunal
• receives cash to pay a fine or penalty, or
• receives cash for fees, disbursements, expenses or bail, provided that any refund out of such receipts is also made in cash

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Q: For purposes of the exception to the limit of cash that a lawyer or paralegal can accept, what is the definition of a public body?

A: Per s. 3 of By-Law 9, a public body means
• a department or agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada or of a province
• an incorporated city, metropolitan authority, town, township, village, county, district, rural municipality or other incorporated municipal body or an agent of any of them, or
• an organization that operates a public hospital that is designated by the Minister of National Revenue as a hospital under the Excise Tax Act or an agent of the organization

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