Important Update on Uniform Law in Western Australia

Western Australia is on track to join the Legal Profession Uniform Law scheme, following the passage of enabling legislation through Parliament on 5 April 2022.

It is anticipated the scheme will become operational from July 1, 2022 following further consultation with the Law Society and other stakeholders.

The scheme came into operation in Victoria and New South Wales in July 2015. In February 2019, WA signed an intergovernmental agreement with those two jurisdictions to join the scheme. The passage of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2021 (WA), which was originally intended to commence in 2020, will  now allow new uniform laws for the legal profession to commence in WA as required under the agreement.

The scheme is intended to reduce compliance costs for firms operating across participating jurisdictions by simplifying and standardising regulatory obligations, cutting red tape and creating a common market for legal services across participating jurisdictions.

Consumers of legal services will benefit from greater consistency of experience across jurisdictions, and also be empowered to make informed choices about their legal options, with a single framework governing legal practice which is administered by local bodies across participating jurisdictions.

When WA officially joins Victoria and NSW in the Legal Profession Uniform Law scheme, the scheme will operate in respect of 75 per cent of the legal profession in Australia.

CPD Seminars on Uniform Law

The Law Society has developed and continues to develop resources to assist the WA profession in preparing for the changes brought about by the Uniform Law. The Law Society has already run a series of CPD seminars on the Uniform Law, and will continue to host seminars on topical Uniform Law matters such as Costs Disclosure, Complaints and Conduct Rules. Visit the CPD Seminars section of the Law Society website for information on upcoming sessions.

The Legal Practice Board also has a fund of information and Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.lpbwa.org.au/Uniform-Law.

The Society is also in the process of updating its Costs Kit to comply with the new disclosure and client engagement requirements under the Uniform Law.

This is an exciting change to the regulation of the Legal Profession and the Law Society is with you to navigate the new regime.

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.

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 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.

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: