Concerns over the necessity of the new national reforms as well as increased costs for Australia's smaller states and territories have stalled the finalisation of the national legal profession reforms.
In discussing the fallout from last week's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, at which the national reforms were not adopted, Law Society of Tasmania president Bill Griffiths said the smaller states and territories have for some time had doubts about whether the reforms would have any real benefit for them.
"Until about 2007 all the states, except South Australia, brought in new legislation to control lawyers ... Most of what was needed, to have a truly national profession, was achieved in that legislation. The view of the smaller states and of many other people is that there is not much to do to finalise any outstanding requirements, in addition to that legislation, in order to have a national profession," said Griffiths.
According to Griffiths, the new legislation proposed by the Government contains more regulation, more "expensive procedures" and will introduce "another layer of bureaucracy".
"It contains expensive procedures, which might not be seen to be expensive by the larger states but certainly expensive so far as the smaller states are concerned," he said.
In response to last week's COAG meeting, the Law Society of New South Wales today (25 August) outlined its support for the national regulations, indicating its plans to work with the smaller states to ensure the reforms are finalised.
"We are disappointed, having worked for months in the belief that we had all compromised and were in lockstep in our desire to achieve a unified profession," said Law Society president, Stuart Westgarth.
"We will continue to work at a federal and state level to ensure that the model for national regulation is adopted and is efficient, effective and affordable for those who consume, provide and regulate legal services."