Important Update on Uniform Law in Western Australia
The Solicitor-General of Western Australia, Joshua Thomson SC provided an update to the Law Society at the end of June 2020 and advised that the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2020 and the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Levy) Bill 2020 (“the Bills”) were debated cognately and third read in the Legislative Assembly on 16 June 2020 without going to consideration in detail. There were expressions of support from all those who spoke on the Bills during the second reading stage.
On the same day, the Bills were referred to the Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Statutes Review by the Legislative Council. This is required by the Standing Orders of the Legislative Council because the Bills are Uniform Legislation Bills. The Standing Committee has 45 days to report on the Bills following which the second reading stage of the Bills will be resumed in the Legislative Council.
The Attorney General anticipates that, if the Bills are passed this year, then the Legal Profession Uniform Law scheme will come into operation in Western Australia on 1 July 2021. This will give sufficient time for local regulations and appointments to be made, and for stakeholders to finalise their preparations for the introduction of the new scheme.
Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2020
The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2020 (WA) was introduced into the Western Australian Parliament on 18 March 2020. The purpose of the Bill is to apply the Legal Profession Uniform Law as a law in Western Australia, bringing Australia a significant step closer to having a national legal profession.
The Legal Profession Uniform Law commenced operation in New South Wales and Victoria on 1 July 2015, replacing the Legal Profession Act 2004 in both jurisdictions. The objective of the reform was to create a common legal services market in New South Wales and Victoria, underpinned by a uniform regulatory system.
This governs matters such as:
- maintaining and auditing of trust accounts;
- professional indemnity;
- billing arrangements;
- complaints handling processes;
- professional discipline issues;
- continuing professional development requirements; and
- practising certificate types and conditions.
The Legal Profession Uniform Law was introduced to create a simpler and more efficient system for both law firms and their clients by cutting red tape, better protecting consumers and ensuring consistency across our borders.
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.
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. This is 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 and has campaigned for it since 2014. See Briefing Paper here for more details.
- 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)