LAWYERS need to be spared the burden of government interference in professional conduct and regulation to enable an efficient and affordable legal system, the profession itself claims.
In a missive about the importance of an independent profession, the Law Council of Australia has put its weight behind the idea of a National Legal Services Board, on which it is represented, to oversee the operation of a new national framework.
The Law Council said it’s arguing the case for an independent legal profession, in which its members set the standard of professional conduct.
Law Council president, John Corcoran, said: “One requirement that stands above all others is the independence of the legal profession, which is of critical importance to Australia’s system of justice.”
“A vital part of having an independent legal profession is that its members set the standards of a professional conduct, and also play a part in the regulation of the profession. The new system must accept these fundamental propositions.”
Corcoran and the Law Council tipped their hat to consumers, as well. Corcoran said uniform and simplified laws are needed to ease the compliance burden on lawyers, and reduce costs and complexity, “resulting in a more efficient and affordable legal system for all Australians”.
The Law Council supports the notion of a National Legal Services Ombudsman to administer and oversee a national complaints-handling framework. H said it would need to lead to a reduction in the cost of managing complaints, and allow consumer disputes to be efficiently resolved.
“Our legal profession is currently the most over-regulated profession in the country. Moving to a truly national, uniform regulatory framework is in the best interests of lawyers and consumers alike,” Mr Corcoran concluded.
Corcoran’s comments come after the Standing Committee of Attorneys General were provided with an update on national legal profession reform at a meeting in Sydney last week.
The chair of the National Legal Profession Taskforce and secretary of the Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department, Roger Wilkins AO, provided ministers provided some feedback, while ministers themselves agreed to ask the Taskforce to address legal advertising as an issue.
Ministers consulted to ask the Taskforce on the option of uniform standards for the content and manner of advertising personal injury legal services as part of its report to COAG in April 2010.