In a recent release by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, it was announced that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to implement a plan that will see the introduction of a uniform and nationwide regulatory system across the Australian legal profession.
What is the new Proposition?
Under the COAG plan, it is intended that draft legislation of the proposed new laws will be ready for consideration within a period of 12 months. A specialist Taskforce, as appointed by the Attorney-General, will be charged with the duty of preparing the new legislation and the Taskforce will receive advice from, and be assisted by, a Consultative Group, who will also be appointed by the Attorney-General.
The current legislation governing the regulation of the Australian legal profession is extremely complex. Not only does it have widespread inconsistencies, there are approximately 55 different regulators across the country.
This makes it difficult for those involved in the Australian legal system in any respect, from lawyers to consumers and clients, as the existing laws see that there are different practices that apply in different jurisdictions. Such discrepancies are in relation to items such as costs disclosure and billings, the relevant processes for the carrying out of admissions and the issuing of practicing certificates, as well as procedures for the handling of complaints and professional discipline matters.
These arrangements are no longer appropriate or relevant to the current operations of our national community, as lawyers and consumers in today’s environment often do not operate in just one particular State or Territory. More and more practitioners and consumers find themselves involved with matters that cross State borders and under the current legislation this can prove difficult to administer.
The initiation of a singular regulatory system for the legal profession is seen to be in the interests of moving forward towards a seamlessly operational national economy. It is no longer practical for there to be such notable differences from one jurisdiction to another.
This change, once introduced, will see benefits for all those affected by or involved with the Australian legal profession regardless of the level of their involvement – the consumers, lawyers and law firms.
For the consumers it is proposed that they will experience increased competition in the marketplace, as well as a reduction in compliance costs and simpler and more transparent billing arrangements, whilst lawyers will enjoy the increased flexibility of being able to operate more easily across jurisdictions.
These changes are a step in the right direction for law regulation in Australia. As our economy and our national community develop so to should our practices and legislation to accurately monitor and facilitate this progression.
At The Quinn Group we are excited by the imminent transition and development of our industry and we embrace the advancement of this field. To that end, we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with all the latest changes. If you require legal advice or assistance on anything from employment or business law to Wills and conveyancing contact us now on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry and one of our professional lawyers will contact you to discuss how The Quinn Group can help you.