Lawyers have welcomed this week's announcement that the new National Legal Services Board and National Legal Services Commissioner, as part of reforms to the legal profession, will be hosted by New South Wales.
The federal Attorney General Robert McClelland said Victoria has also agreed to introduce legislation to implement the reforms, which will be replicated across all participating jurisdictions.
The Law Council of Australia said the news is a positive outcome of discussions between NSW, Victorian, Queensland and Northern Territory Attorneys-General.
"[The] announcement is a significant step in the reform process begun over two and a half years ago and we are now well and truly in the implementation phase of this important project," said Law Council president Alexander Ward.
The Law Council urged the other, non-participating jurisdictions to reconsider their position when they see the benefits of a national profession.
"I would especially like to thank the very valuable contributions of the law societies and bar associations of the four participating jurisdictions whose support for this project has never waivered.
"An extensive amount of consultation and effort has gone into the reform process over a long period of time and now the host jurisdictions have been decided, the profession would like to see the new regulatory framework implemented as soon as practicable," Ward said.
McClelland said the reforms to the legal profession have been four years in the making, and that he is delighted the government can now confirm the final steps in implementing the scheme.
“These reforms will serve the interests of both consumers and the legal profession by improving consumer protection, protecting the independence of the legal profession and ensuring access to justice.
“Four jurisdictions - New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory – are taking part in the reforms as they start, covering around 85 per cent of Australia’s practising lawyers.
“This means these reforms will deliver benefits for the vast majority of the legal profession and I’m confident the remaining jurisdictions will come on board once they can see the clear benefits of the scheme up and running.
“Participating jurisdictions held a ballot this week for which state should be the host jurisdiction for the national board.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and Northern Territory Attorneys-General in progressing these reforms.”
McClelland said the reforms will bring improvements to the legal profession across the board.
“I strongly believe we can no longer justify the current local regulation of such an important profession, one that’s responsible for generating around $13 billion a year,” he said.
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