This information is for accountants, financial planners or anyone else who uses Cleardocs to order documents for anyone other than for themselves. - Comments provided by our Lawyers, Maddocks
In this information, we refer to Cleardocs customers who do that as intermediaries.
A familiar model goes online
Intermediaries obtain documents from Cleardocs in a similar way to obtaining documents from other document providers: for example, from shelf-company providers and from law firms that provide shelf-company and trust services.
When an intermediary buys documents from many of those providers:
- the intermediary completes a form with all relevant information relating to the documents that are required;
- the intermediary submits that form to the provider; and
- the provider sends the documents to the intermediary.
The main difference between using Cleardocs and using many other providers is that the Cleardocs "form" is an online interface. The efficiency of this technology does not change the role of the intermediary.
If advice is needed
Cleardocs can not and does not give legal advice to anyone. Nor can intermediaries (unless they are a registered Australian legal practitioner).
Cleardocs helps intermediaries to avoid giving legal advice by offering — through Maddocks — the free legal helpline in relation to Cleardocs documents.
To access the helpline, intermediaries can call Cleardocs on 1300 307 343. Cleardocs will put the caller through to the relevant person at Maddocks. If the call will take more than a few minutes, then Maddocks may need to charge for the call. Alternatively, intermediaries should consult their lawyers to provide them or their clients with legal advice.
Some important issues for intermediaries
It is important that intermediaries use the Cleardocs system appropriately — as is the case with an intermediary using the service of any document provider. In particular, an intermediary (who is not a registered Australian legal practitioner) must remember the following:
- An intermediary's role in obtaining documents from Cleardocs is the same as obtaining documents from other document providers. Anyone in the accounting and financial advisory industries etc. faces a range of issues when they order documents from any document providers — even from a law firm that provides shelf company and trust services.
- If an intermediary decides which document is required, or that a document is appropriate, and orders that document, then Cleardocs and other document providers cannot assess whether the document is appropriate or suits the circumstances of the intermediary's client: only the intermediary has the relevant information.
- Before an intermediary's client signs a document, we recommend that the client or the intermediary obtain legal advice, and where appropriate accounting and financial advice, as to the suitability of a document.
- Intermediaries must never attempt to amend the legal content of the documents that are provided to them by document providers. By amending documents an intermediary may be deemed to be preparing or drafting legal documents. Intermediaries must avoid this sort of work (and providing legal advice) because the law says that only a registered Australian legal practitioner may perform that sort of work. There are significant penalties for engaging in legal practice — unless the person is a registered Australian legal practitioner.
- Cleardocs provides documents to cover basic circumstances and structures. If particular drafting is required in documents, then the intermediary (or anyone else) must always have this drafting done by a lawyer.
Seek legal advice
If you have any concerns or queries about any of this information or about whether a Cleardocs document package suits your, or your client's needs, then you must seek legal advice.
If you are a Cleardocs customer, then you can use the free legal helpline Cleardocs has arranged with Maddocks. To access the helpline, call Cleardocs on 1300 307 343, and they will be happy to put you through to the relevant person at Maddocks.