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Under the Transaction Files Code, CLC practices must retain the contents of files relating to all matters for a minimum of six years, except those relating to:

  • Other conveyancing matters (other than the sale of property) for a minimum of 15 years

  • Wills for a minimum of six years after the testator has died

  • Probate matters for a minimum of six years from the end of the executor's year

The regulatory obligations do not cease when practices close, but we find that owners have often not considered this or budgeted for ongoing storage and/or data retention. This is unacceptable. File storage is a key part of an orderly shutdown and the CLC lawyer must address it and plan for its ongoing management

Electronic file storage

Some firms are moving to electronic file storage, and this can mean different problems if they close. In many cases, the documents are stored within a case management system (CMS), meaning that ongoing access to the CMS is required - this includes the CLC in the event of intervention. CLC rules require files to be stored on a "durable medium". A CMS does not count as such; a PDF does. Best practice is to ensure the files are scanned or exported to PDF and saved in an electronic database at the point of archiving.