Lawyers in Victoria may see a hike in practising certificate fees next year as the Victorian Legal Services Board and commissioner (VLSB+C) call for the tiered fee structure to be changed to a flat one.
Practitioners who do not hold trust authorisation would see fees increase from $344 to $517 under the changes.
The Law Institute of Victoria is opposed to the changes, saying it’s not aware of any benefits of a fee hike to practitioners, nor to consumers of legal services.
“The LIV has raised significant concerns about the inadequacy of the VLSB+C’s consultation to date, given that the PC renewal process commences in March 2017 and surcharges apply to applications to renew PCs after 30 April,” LIV CEO Nerida Wallace told Lawyers Weekly.
“The LIV also opposes any significant PC fee increase of the scale proposed, without comprehensive justification.”
The VLSB+C is required to undertake a comprehensive regulatory assessment process, including adequate consultation with relevant stakeholders, both before and after preparing a regulatory impact statement, Ms Wallace said.
The recovery of the costs of regulation was the reason cited for the proposed increase in practising certificate fees. But, according to the LIV, the regulation of the legal profession in Victoria already operates on a 100 per cent cost recovery model.
“[There is] no reliance placed on consolidated revenue and all regulatory costs recovered from interest on the Public Purpose Fund (interest on trust accounts collected by trust account holders) and PC fees,” Ms Wallace said.
“While the impact that this will have on practices will vary, all practitioners will need to take into account the substantial increase in fees, particularly for those PCs without trust authorisation, when considering the costs of running their businesses.”