Legal Profession Uniform Law - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Legal Profession Uniform Law

From 1 July 2015 the Legal Profession Act 2004 is repealed and replaced by the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014, or ‘Uniform Law’. The Uniform Law package includes Legal Profession Uniform Rules (or Uniform Rules). Victoria and New South Wales are the first states to adopt and implement the Uniform Law and Uniform Rules. The law is available on the Victorian Legislation website.

This web page will assist you as the Uniform Law is implemented. It will be updated from time to time as necessary.

Legal Profession Uniform Rules

The Uniform Rules were made by the Legal Services Council following a public consultation which closed on 16 January 2015. The rules are available on the Legal Services Council website.

What Won’t Change Under the Uniform Law

The Uniform Law includes transitional arrangements to minimise the disruption caused on commencement. Beyond the transitional period, the Uniform Law re-affirms a number of the substantive rights, responsibilities, approaches and objectives that applied under the Legal Profession Act 2004, for example:

  • Complaints about the conduct of lawyers are made to the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner.
  • Lawyers lodge their practising certificate applications with the Victorian Legal Services Board if Victoria is their principal place of practice.
  • Local lawyers are prohibited from engaging in legal practice in Victoria unless they hold or are covered by an approved professional indemnity insurance policy.
  • Most lawyers applying for a practising certificate are required to pay annual contributions to the fidelity fund set by the Board.
  • Barristers’ clerks in Victoria may be approved to receive trust money on behalf of barristers.

What Will Change Under the Uniform Law

The Uniform Law introduces a number of new or significantly modified elements. The Attorney‑General noted that the reforms offer the prospect of significantly reduced interstate barriers to seamless national legal practice, while improving consumer protections and safeguarding an independent legal profession:

  • Lawyers must take all reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that their clients have understood, and consent to, the proposed course of action for the conduct of their matter and the estimated costs.
  • Lawyers may charge no more than fair and reasonable costs.
  • The Commissioner has new powers to make binding determinations to resolve consumer matters, including the power to make compensation orders of up to $25,000 and to make a determination about costs that are payable if the costs in dispute are less than $10,000.

The following fact sheets identify the key changes under the Uniform Law:

 

Last modified October 16, 2015.