If you are an Australian lawyer as defined by the Legal Profession Uniform Law and you do not have a place of residence in Australia, you may still be eligible to apply for a Victorian practising certificate.
Before applying for or varying a Victorian practising certificate, you should consider whether you need to hold a practising certificate while overseas. If you intend to engage in legal practice overseas, you should first confirm with the relevant overseas regulatory authority whether you are required to hold a current Victorian practising certificate for their purposes. If not, you might consider surrendering your Victorian practising certificate and re-applying for one upon your return to Victoria.
Practising certificate type
If you are an overseas-based lawyer, you may seek grant or renewal of a local practising certificate under any of the available conditions as provided for in s.47 of the Uniform Law (eg. Principal, Corporate, Employee, Volunteer etc). For most, this will mean there is no need to change existing practising certificate conditions. Lawyers should also remember their obligations to satisfy the requirements of the local regulators.
Notifying the Board
The Board expects to be notified of an overseas move when a practising certificate is current. When overseas and renewing a license, practitioners may select the ‘practising overseas’ option on our online licensing tool, LSB Online.
Upon resuming practice in Victoria, s.46 of the Uniform Law requires practitioners to notify the Board of their new principal place of practice. There are no further notification requirements.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Section 211 of the Uniform Law requires lawyers to hold professional indemnity insurance when engaging in legal practice in Victoria. It is therefore not necessary for lawyers practising overseas to apply for insurance exemptions.
If an overseas law practice or Australian legal practitioner practises in foreign law on behalf of a client based in Australia when those services are not covered by approved insurance policy, the practice or practitioner must give written notice to the client that those services are not so covered, pursuant to Rule 80 of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015.
If a practitioner intends to practice in Victoria from their overseas base, they will required to be exempted from or covered by an approved insurance policy, under s.215 of the Uniform Law.
Lawyers with a supervised legal practice condition on their practising certificate are no longer required to comply with this condition when practising overseas, however any legal practice undertaken can be used as a basis for a request for an exemption upon return to Victoria.
Other statutory conditions, such as continuing professional development and notification of ‘show cause’ events requirements apply to overseas based practitioners holding a Victorian practising certificate.