The Legal Profession Uniform Law
The Uniform Law harmonises regulation of the legal profession, cuts red tape and creates a single system to govern legal practice.
The Uniform Law and Uniform Rules replaced the Legal Profession Act and Regulations in NSW and Victoria on 1 July 2015 and in Western Australia on 1 July 2022.
Uniform Law Legislation
The Uniform Law legislative framework is comprised of a number of laws and rules made in a number of Australian jurisdictions.
The Uniform Law itself is found in Schedule 1 to the Victorian Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014.
This applies in Western Australia by virtue of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2022 (WA) (Application Act).
Local Rules and Regulations are also made under the Application Act, see:
Uniform Law Rules
Uniform Rules provide the Uniform Law’s underpinning operational detail.
The Legal Services Council can develop and make rules about anything that is necessary to give effect to the Uniform Law.
These rules are published on the NSW legislation website:
Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 – The General Rules contain much of the detail about practising certificates, trust money, trust accounts and billing.
Legal Profession Uniform Legal Practice (Solicitors) Rules 2015 – The rules may provide for any aspect of legal practice.
Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015 – The Admission Rules set out the qualifications for admission to the legal profession. Admission Rules are developed by the Admissions Committee.
These rules set out conduct rules for solicitors, including Australian-registered foreign lawyers, and barristers, governing their fundamental duties as legal practitioners:
These rules set out the minimum requirements for continuing professional development for solicitors and barristers:
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 has advocated for the adoption of Legal Profession Uniform Law in Western Australia since 2014. Find out more about the historical background by clicking on the link below.
Uniform Law Cost Requirements
One of the larger changes to legal practice occasioned by the Uniform Law is the requirements regarding client engagement and cost disclosure to clients. The Law Society with Law Mutual have developed template client engagement agreements which can be utilised by Law Practices. Find more information here.
Billing Requirements (under Uniform Law)
The Legal Profession Uniform Law provides that all bills issued by law practices must include or be accompanied by a written statement setting out –
a. the options open to the client in the event of a dispute about the legal costs; and
b. any time limits which may apply to those options.
A link to a Factsheet which contains the options and time limits can be found here.
This information is also available along with some additional wording regarding the use of trust money and charging interest, which members may also wish to consider incorporating into their invoices. Please see it here.
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 has advocated for the adoption of Legal Profession Uniform Law in Western Australia 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.
- Legal Profession Uniform Law Policy Position (December 2016)
- The Law Society’s review of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Report (August 2014)
- Law Council of Australia Speech – National Legal Profession Reform (November 2011, Attorney-General Michael Mischin MLC)
- Taskforce Paper on Business Structures – Law Practices (25 November 2009)
- Hon Robert McClelland MP, Federal Attorney General’s speech at Law Summer School 2010 (26 February 2010)
- Hon Robert McClelland MP, Federal Attorney General’s interview with The Australian newspaper on the draft Bill consultation (14 May 2010)
- Overview of Regulatory Framework for National Regulation of the Legal Profession (22 December 2010)
- Draft Legal Profession National Law (December 2010)
- Draft Legal Profession National Rules (December 2010)
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:
- Business Structures – Law Practices
- Trust Money
- Fidelity Cover
- National Legal Services Ombudsman
- Regulatory Framework and Ombudsman
- Letter from LCA re Regulatory Framework
- Law Society of Western Australia Submission to the National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce (August 2010)
- Law Council of Australia Submission to the National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce (August 2010)