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States give verdict on legal professional reforms

States give verdict on legal professional reforms

Western Australian and South Australia have turned their backs on the national legal profession in Australia scheme, while Queensland is not happy with the proposed reforms in their current form.

WESTERN Australian and South Australia have turned their backs on the national legal profession in Australia scheme, while Queensland is not happy with the proposed reforms in their current form.

At the second meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorney General, Western Australia and South Australia have reserved their decision and not agreed to the proposed scheme.

Queensland, meanwhile, has voiced concerns about funding arrangements.

Victoria supported the reforms in principle, noting the value of a national legal profession, but reserved its position on the details of the model.

As four states remain ambiguous about the proposed reforms, the ministers last week agreed that work needs to be taken to identify the cost the potential savings to each jurisdiction.

Ministers agreed to ask COAG to release the Legal Profession National Law Bill and National Rules publicly after consideration by the COAG Business and Competition Working Group.

The resolutions of the various states come after public consultation for the COAG National Legal Profession Reform project, which concluded on 13 August.

Earlier this year the Law Society of Western Australia voiced its concerns about the independence of the legal profession under the new system. It focussed its discontent at the potential for WA consumers to pay higher costs for legal services as a result of the new framework.

This comes after Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reform council chairman Paul McClintock recently (2 December) urged Prime Minister Julia Gillard to revive reforms promised by the federal and state governments, The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported.

McClintock said the reforms, which include improving competition and removing red tape in key infrastructure markets, needed dedicated leadership if they were going to be successful, the newspaper reported.

"If COAG isn't seen to be effective in the coming year, you will start to significantly erode the confidence in the whole concept and the brand," he told the newspaper.

McClintock said Gillard needed to increase the overall effectiveness of the council as well as lead the process.


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