One of Australia's most prominent Chief Justices has called on the legal profession to protest against proposals for national reform which would threaten the profession's independence.
Speaking at the Law Society of South Australia's Criminal Law Conference last week, Chief Justice John Doyle said he found it hard to believe that such proposals - which would give the executive government power to elect the board which would effectively control the legal profession - could be made.
"I believe that we will see a draft bill within the next few weeks," he said.
"If it contains what I fear it might contain, and has been foreshadowed, then the bill will propose something against which every lawyer should protest."
According to Doyle, if such a proposal is accepted, the independence of the profession will be seriously jeopardised.
"I am not opposed to the proposal for a national law, nor to the concept of the board," he said.
"An independent legal profession is at the heart of our legal system, and it follows that the executive government must not control the core elements that make the profession independent."
Doyle theorised that values which the legal profession holds at its core would be threatened, as would the proper administration of criminal justice, if the independence of the legal profession is lost.
"The administration of criminal justice tells us a lot about society and its values," he said.
"The values that our system for the administration of criminal justice reflects would not be adequately defended unless there is an independent legal profession involved in the administration of criminal justice."
Doyle is the latest in a growing line of prominent legal professionals who have spoken out about concerns in relation to the proposed reforms.
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