Important Update on Uniform Law in Western Australia

Commencement Date in Western Australia

Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2021

On 23 June 2021 the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill was reintroduced into the Legislative Assembly, following its lapsing before the State election.  The Uniform law, once enacted, will simplify and standardise regulatory obligations, cut red tape for legal practitioners, and provide consistency for consumers of legal services across WA, NSW and Victoria. The anticipated commencement date for the Uniform Law remains 1 January 2022.

The Law Society is hopeful that these important reforms can pass through the WA Parliament without delay.  In the leadup to the commencement of the Uniform Law the Society will hold CPD Seminars to familiarise the profession with the changes.

Legal Profession Uniform Law Fact Sheets

These Fact Sheets provide general information of an introductory nature on various aspects of the Uniform Law.  The Fact Sheets will be added to and updated as the Uniform Law progresses in Western Australia:

1 – Overview of the Uniform Law
2 – Cost Disclosures Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law
3 – Legal Profession Uniform Law Cost Disclosure – Reasonable Steps
4 – Billing Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law
5 – Consumer Complaints Involving Costs Disputes Under the Uniform Law
6 – Prohibition on Engaging in Legal Practice by Unqualified Entities
7 – Incorporated Legal Practises Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law
8 – Law Practices – Unincorporated Legal Practice
9 – Practising in WA Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law – Individuals
10 – Solicitor Stamps Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law
11 – Party/Party Cost Assessment Procedure

The Law Society of Western Australia fully endorses the adoption of the Legal Profession Uniform Law and has campaigned for it since 2014. Find out more about the historical background by clicking on the link below.

Historical Background

On 5 February 2009, the Council of Australian Governments agreed that further work needed to be done to nationalise regulation of the legal profession in Australia and the National Legal Profession Reform Project was established. Background papers of the project are available at ag.gov.au.

The introduction of a uniform system of legal profession regulation has been a goal of the Law Council of Australia. Victoria and New South Wales adopted the Uniform Law on 1 July 2015. This was considered to be a significant milestone towards a truly national profession, and a positive example of the profession taking a leadership role in setting its own standards.

The Law Council has produced a fact sheet which provides an overview of the arrangements that applies to interstate practitioners when practising in New South Wales and Victoria from 1 July 2015.

The Law Society of Western Australia fully endorses the adoption of the Legal Profession Uniform Law in our State and has campaigned for it since 2014. See the Briefing Paper here for more details.

In 2020, the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2020 and the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application (Levy) Bill 2020 were introduced into the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. The Bills passed the Assembly and the Legislative Council referred them to the Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation, who reported on the Bills in October 2020.

On 7 December 2020, prior to the 2021 Western Australia State election, the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly were prorogued. As a result of propagation, all bills before both houses ‘lapse’ and are removed from the parliamentary business. As a result the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2020 and the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application (Levy) Bill 2020  lapsed.

Following the lapsing of the Bills, the Law Society was advised that the Attorney General wrote to the New South Wales and Victorian Attorneys General seeking to extend the operation of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Legal Profession Uniform Law Framework to 1 January 2022 and to confirm the State Government’s commitment to joining the Legal Profession Uniform Law scheme.

The Bills were re-introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 23 June 2021.

Additional Papers:

Submissions to National Taskforce

Below are joint submissions by the various state and territory law societies and bar associations that have been submitted in response to the National Legal Profession Reform project taskforce’s discussion papers released in late 2009 and the Federal Government’s draft Bill consultation period in mid-2010: