eCaseNote 2009 No. 01

Client Identification and Verification

On October 31, 2008 a new Law Society rule for client identification and verification came into effect for all lawyers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most law societies across Canada have implemented similar rules as a result of various international treaties signed by the Government of Canada to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing. This new rule requires lawyers to identify their client when they are retained to provide legal services and to verify that identity when involved in the transfer of funds on behalf of the client (barring some exceptions).

The client identification rule outlines that all lawyers are required to obtain and record certain information when retained by a client. We are required to obtain and record a client’s full name, business address and business telephone number, home address and home telephone number and occupation when retained by a client who is an individual.

For a client who is an organization we are required to obtain the full name, business address and business telephone number, the organization’s incorporation or business identification number and the name, position and contact information for those individuals who are authorized to give instructions with respect to the matter for which we are retained. In addition to this information, for organizations who are not financial institutions or public bodies, we are required to obtain the general nature of the type of business or activity engaged in by the client.

Client verification is required at any time a lawyer is engaged on behalf of a client to receive, pay or transfer funds. In such cases, lawyers are now required to verify the identity of their individual clients through government issued identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.). Should the client be an organization, confirmation from a government registry as to the existence, name and address of the organization and the names of its directors and officers will be required. Additional information with respect to the directors and shareholders of the organization may also be required.

We thank you for your understanding and assistance in complying with these new professional requirements. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

The comments contained in this eCaseNote provide general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. For more information or specific advice on matters of interest, please call our offices at (709) 579-2081.