NEWLY installed ACT Law Society president Bill Redpath is confident his term will be marked by an acceptance of the guild’s regulatory reform proposals.
In the wake of seismic changes to the regulation of lawyers in Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria so far this year, it is now the ACT’s turn to implement a more transparent regime of discipline ahead of a national profession.
But the Law Society has rejected the Legal Services Commission (LSC) approach that proved popular in fellow Eastern jurisdictions. Instead, it has plumped for an independent legal ombudsman, a post that ironically will be made redundant in Queensland and Victoria under the new LSC regimes.
“Because our profession is smaller in size, there is no need for the bureaucracy of an LSC,” said Redpath, a born and bred Canberran who replaced Dennis Farrar as president late last month. “We’re working with government to get greater independence into our disciplinary processes.”
To achieve that end, Redpath has told ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope — with whom the reform decision ultimately rests — that having an ombudsman in place to review Law Society decisions and receive complaints from consumers unsatisfied with handling in the first instance, would be ideal.
“Our arguments have found favour with government,” he reported. “There’s still a fair bit of detail to work through, but at this stage there’s a strong sense of cooperation.”
Having practised in the field of personal injury and workers compensation for over a decade, Redpath is also keen to ensure the ACT Government continues to shy away from negligence reform.
“Canberra has so far been largely untouched by the taking away of injured people’s common law rights. We’re pleased to have an enlightened government which has shown the ability to resist cuts to line the pockets of insurers.”