QUEENSLAND’S controversial Legal Services Commission (LSC) will be up and running early next year as promised, says the State’s Attorney-General’s Department.
Question marks over a start date for the LSC, originally announced as 1 January 2004, emerged shortly after the term of incumbent independent watchdog — legal Ombudsman Jack Nimmo — was recently extended to 31 January 2004.
Glenn Ferguson, president of the Queensland Law Society (QLS), which will be stripped of its enshrined right to receive and investigate conduct matters under the new regime, last week said it seemed “very unlikely” that the slated start date would be adhered to. He hinted that the new financial year might be more feasible.
“A possible indication of a date of implementation of the new regime is in the [Legal Profession Bill] and that is the provision that interest on trust accounts will be transferred from the Society. . . from the beginning of the 2004-05 financial year although that might simply be for ease of administration,” he said.
When contacted by Lawyers Weekly, the Government was swift to counter any claims that the new body would arrive late. A spokesperson for Attorney-General Rod Welford said that plans were still in place for its commencement to occur in “early 2004”.
The A-G’s department also hit out at speculation surrounding Ferguson’s comments, which it believed contributed to further ambiguity.
“If there is any confusion it is being created by the QLS,” the spokesperson said.
Ferguson has already accused the Government of launching it into a “twilight zone”. He claims the Bill’s provision of handing the LSC discretionary powers to delegate investigations to the QLS have left the guild uncertain about how to maintain its staff numbers.