Dormant Client Account Appeal

What is the Small change big change appeal?

Small amounts of money are lying untouched in dormant client accounts that could add up to a significant amount to help us support our hospice.

Haven House Children’s Hospice is seeking the help of solicitors based in North and North East London, West Essex and East Hertfordshire who may have dormant client accounts holding up to £500, where the client is untraceable. We would like to ask those firms if they would consider donating their dormant client accounts to Haven House.

Although many solicitor firms might consider the amounts generated from those funds to be quite small, collectively they would make a significant contribution our fundraising.

Do I have to get Solicitors Regulation Authority Permission?

Unclaimed client account balances are sums of money which lie dormant in the client accounts of many firms of solicitors, often untouched for years. It may be that the rightful owner cannot be traced, or perhaps they will not provide instructions on what should be done with the monies. An attempt may have been made to return the monies to the client by cheque, but it remains un-cashed.

In 2008 the Solicitors Regulatory Authority relaxed the rules on payment of unclaimed client balances of up to £500 to charity. Law Firms must return balances on client accounts promptly, as soon as there is no reason to retain the funds. However, where the rightful owner cannot be traced, rule 22(2A) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules permits balances up to £500 to be paid to charity without SRA permission providing that certain safeguards are met; this includes taking and recording adequate steps to identify and return the funds to the rightful owner. Amounts over £500 can also be paid to charity provided SRA permission is granted.

Unclaimed client account balances cannot be used for any purpose and are a burden to financial managers who have to account for these balances to auditors annually – donating them to charity makes sense and Haven House would be very grateful for even the smallest amounts – small change can make big changes.

We are more than happy to give Haven House Children’s Hospice our residual balances, knowing this will help to continue the vital work they do for local life-limited and their families.

Thirsk Winton, local solicitors

Why Haven House Children’s Hospice?

If you are a solicitor working in North London, North East London, West Essex or East Hertfordshire your clients are likely to live in the local community. Our work is based in your local community; we provide care and support free of charge to children and their families who are living with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Recognising your Contribution

If you choose to support us in this way, we will be truly grateful and we will:

  • Send a thank you certificate
  • Provide copy for use on your website or brochure showing you are supporting Haven House 
  • Mention you in our wide reaching social media channels
  • Information on the size of donations will remain confidential, unless agreed otherwise.

How to donate your residue funds for our appeal

To find how to donate to the appeal you can contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority to request a template letter to send your donation with a covering letter. The letter is to be sent to client account holders in accordance with SRA rules for releasing dormant client accounts.

The SRA rules state that law firms must make “reasonable” efforts to contact the client account holder before funds can be released. The template letter provides an indicative basis which law firms can use to make attempts to engage with account holders.

Please make cheques payable to Haven House Foundation and send to IGM Team, Haven House Children’s Hospice, The White House, High Road, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9LB with a covering letter stating clearly the donation is from your dormant client account.

Alternatively, please get in touch for our banking details so that you can transfer the donations easily.

Please include your firm’s name and ‘Small Change Big Change’ in the transfer reference.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do we need SRA authorisation to pay unclaimed client balances to charity?
(a) Balances up to £500
Solicitors do not need SRA approval to pay amounts not exceeding £500 to charity provided the firm complies with rule 22 (2A) of the Solicitors Account Rules:

  • By making reasonable attempts to establish the identity of the money’s owner;
  • By making adequate attempts to ascertain the proper destination of the money and to return it to the rightful owner, unless the reasonable costs of doing so are likely to be excessive:

For example, writing to the owners last known address and attempting to make contact by phone, searching the electoral roll and, in the case of business clients, searching Companies House;

  • By paying the funds to charity
  • By recording the above steps taken, and keeping all relevant documentation such as the attempted correspondence, and the receipts from the charity; and
  • By keeping a central register in accordance with rule 32(13A)

(b) Balances over £500
Solicitors do need SRA authorisation under rule 22 (1) (H) from the Professional Ethics Guidance Team [email protected]
Solicitors Regulation Authority, Professional Ethics, Ipsley Court, Barrington Close, Redditch B98 9TD or DX 19114 Redditch.
Haven House Children’s Hospice will provide a written indemnity to all donating law firms as required by the SRA.

For further information please contact:

Teena Antoniou
020 8498 5845