Education legacy from Mortgage Practitioners

Published On: November 22, 2021

Law Institute of Victoria now has more than $3.6m available for education programmes.

When I commenced working as a lawyer fifty years ago, many successful legal firms had a Mortgage Practice as an adjunct to their legal practices. Clients with money to invest would entrust it to their legal practitioner to lend it to someone who needed finance, on the security of a registered first mortgage. The loan would be managed by the legal practice and if there was default by the borrower, recovery proceedings would be instigated. Nicholas O’Donohue & Co. was a leader in mortgage practice; we developed very sophisticated systems, and with the evolution of computerisation the finance arm of Nicholas O’Donohue & Co. became very important.

Around Australia there were billions of dollars under management, and ASIC determined that these lending practices required regulation and legislation. The legal firms were required to wind down their Mortgage Practices so that by the turn of the new century, licensed finance companies were formed out of those Mortgage Practices. The company which developed from our firm is Australian Securities Limited.

During the transition from legal lirm to independent finance company, a separate fund had to be established to satisfy ASIC’s insurance requirements. The insurance account into which mortgage practitioners contributed, provided the genesis of The Solicitors’ Mortgage Fidelity Fund (SMFF) which was in place for more than 20 years. No claim was ever made on the Fund.

For the past 20 years, Mortgage Fidelity Fund Pty Ltd as Trustee, has administered the SMFF and has overseen its investment and distribution. During this time, the SMFF gave substantial payments to the Law Institute of Victoria for education purposes. The Trustee recently resolved to wind-up the Fund and to transfer the trust funds to the Law Institute of Victoria (which is an endorsed income exempt charity) for the sole purpose of applying the funds for the education of solicitors.

This means the Law Institute of Victoria now has more than $3.6m available for education programmes.

I was appointed the first director of Mortgage Fidelity Fund Pty Ltd and was its Chair for more than a decade. I am delighted to have supported the Law Institute in providing a legacy which all mortgage practitioners can be justifiably proud.

Please contact Frank Lynch if you would like more information.

(This is a condensed version of an Article which was published in the LIJ November 2021)

Author: Frank Lynch

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