Regulatory arrangements in Victoria
On 1 July 2015 the Legal Profession Uniform Law became the governing legislation for all lawyers in Victoria and New South Wales. The Uniform Law harmonises regulation of the legal profession, cuts red tape and creates a single system to govern legal practice in participating jurisdictions.
The Uniform Law names the Victorian Legal Services Board and the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner as the local regulators responsible for regulating lawyers in Victoria. The Board and Commissioner work closely with the Legal Services Council, the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation, the New South Wales regulators and the Victorian professional associations to ensure the efficient and fair regulation of lawyers under the Uniform Law.
Below is an overview of the roles assigned to various bodies by the Uniform Law.
Legal Services Council
The Legal Services Council is a five-member body that is responsible for setting the rules and policies which underpin the Uniform Law, monitoring the overall operation of the Uniform Law framework, and ensuring it is applied consistently across participating jurisdictions.
Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation
The Uniform Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the dispute resolution and compliance functions of the local regulators and ensuring they are implemented consistently and effectively. The Uniform Commissioner also raises awareness about the Uniform Framework and its objectives.
The Uniform Commissioner is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Legal Services Council.
Victorian Legal Services Board
The Victorian Legal Services Board is responsible for a range of functions, including:
- Administration of solicitors’ practising certificates including grant, renewal, suspension and cancellation (for barristers, these functions have been delegated to the Victorian Bar)
- Maintenance of the register of practitioners and law practices
- Local registration of foreign lawyers
- Setting professional indemnity insurance requirements
- Administration of funds under the Uniform Law (including the Public Purpose Fund and the Fidelity Fund)
- Determination of claims against the Fidelity Fund
- Administration, management and oversight of all law practice and barristers’ clerks trust accounts in Victoria
- Appointment of external interveners to law practices: Supervisors and Managers and applications to the Supreme Court for appointment of Receivers
- Meeting the expenses of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
- Meeting the expenses of the VCAT Legal Practice List
- Administering a grants program and awarding grants and
- Providing funding for Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Law Reform Commission, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar.
Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner is responsible for receiving and handling all complaints made against lawyers within Victoria. In addition, the Commissioner educates the legal profession about issues of concern to the profession and consumers of legal services.
The Victorian Commissioner also produces material for consumers of legal services to inform them about their rights and obligations when dealing with lawyers.
Law Institute of Victoria
The Law Institute of Victoria performs functions under delegations from and contracts with the Board for:
- Investigation of claims against the Fidelity Fund
- carrying out trust account investigations
- assessment of the approved trust account course
- auditing legal practices and
- undertaking external examinations of legal practices and
- administering CPD requirements.
The Victorian Bar
The Victorian Bar holds a delegation from the Board for
- administering the practising certificates of all barristers
- making disqualification orders and
- administering CPD requirements.
In addition the Victorian Bar holds a delegation from the Victorian Commissioner for dealing with complaints about a barrister’s legal costs
Supreme Court of Victoria
The Supreme Court of Victoria has responsibility for:
- Admission to practice for Australian Legal Practitioners
- Appointment of a Receiver to Victorian law practices (on the application by the Board) and
- Removal of names from the Roll of Legal Practitioners.
Victorian Legal Admissions Board
The Victorian Legal Admissions Board is responsible for handling all applications by lawyers for admission to the Supreme Court, and making recommendations to the Court about those applications. The Admissions Board also determines the training and educational requirements for admission to the Supreme Court .
Legal Practice List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
The Legal Practice List of VCAT is responsible for the review of administrative decisions under the Uniform Law, including practising certificate determinations and making of disciplinary orders against lawyers for unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
Legal Practitioners Liability Committee
The Legal Practitioners Liability Committee has responsibility for providing professional indemnity insurance to barristers and solicitors and legal practitioners engaged in pro bono legal practice.
National Pro Bono Resource Centre
The National Pro Bono Resource Centre provides professional indemnity insurance to corporate and government lawyers engaged in pro bono legal practice outside of a Community Legal Service.
As described above, several of the Board and Commissioner’s regulatory functions have been delegated to the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar. Delegated functions are exercised consistently with any applicable Board and/or Commissioner policy.
The full list of the Board and Commissioner’s delegations for any past financial year, both to external bodies or to internal positions, can be found in the relevant annual report for that year.
All current delegations made by the Board and Commissioner under the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic), are available via the Delegations page.