A taskforce charged with developing uniform legislation to regulate the Australian legal profession has today released three new discussion papers dealing with trust accounting, professional indemnity insurance and business structures.
The country's first legal officer today welcomed the release of the papers.
“These discussion papers have provided options to remove red tape, protect consumers and uphold professional standards," Attorney General Robert McClelland said.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed on a plan to achieve national regulation of the Australian legal profession in April this year. It agreed to provide uniform laws regulating the profession for consideration by COAG within 12 months. Part of that involved the creation of the National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce.
The Taskforce comprises Roger Wilkins, secretary of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, as well as Bill Grant, secretary general of the Law COuncil of Australia, Laurie Glanfield, the director general of the NSW Attorney General's Department and Louise Glanville, executive director of the Victorian Department of Justice.
In the Taskforce's trust accounting paper, released today, it recommends measures to protect interests on trust, as well as joint and several liability for principals of a law practice for the compliance by the law practice of its obligations.
In its professional indemnity paper, the Taskforce recommends nationally consistent levels of professional indemnity insurance protection, as well as arrangements to support seamless national legal practice by practices and practitioners operating across state and territory borders.
In the business structures paper, the provision of legal services through a range of business structures is recommended. It also suggests that any particular business structure does not impede a law practice and its practitioners from complying with the national law, national rules and other professional obligations.
The paper will be made available at www.ag.gov.au, and the Attorney today encouraged people to consider the papers and to provide the Taskforce and Consultative Group with feedback.