Under the provisions of the Legal Profession Uniform Law, the Legal Services Council makes and amends Rules as required to refine and improve the operation of the Uniform Law. Some recent changes are listed below.
In January 2019, the Legal Services Council (LSC) made a Uniform General Rule on Indexation to ensure the Victorian and NSW Legal Services Commissioners, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, maintain their jurisdiction to determine costs disputes in line with inflation. From 1 July 2019, the new rule, r 111 A of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015, will apply to ss 291-293 of the Uniform Law and s 99 of the Legal Profession Uniform Application Act 2014 (Vic).
In accordance with the rule, the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation will notify the NSW Parliamentary Counsel of the indexed amounts for the next financial year once the Australian Statistician publishes the latest CPI number. The Commissioner will also give public notice on the LSC website of the actual amounts applying in each financial year resulting from indexation under this rule.
From 18 January 2019 the Legal
Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Amendment (Refusal of Briefs)
Rule 2018 applies. The new rule comprises r 101A of the Legal Profession Uniform
Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 (r 101A)
and replaces r 101(n).
The effect of r 101A is to reduce the period of prohibition on a barrister appearing before tribunals of which they were formerly a member, from five years to two; and to limit the retrospectivity of the prohibition. The former amendment seeks to treat barristers who previously sat as tribunal members differently from barristers who previously sat as Judges. The latter amendment seeks to preserve the position of barristers who accepted judicial appointments in Victoria before 1 July 2015 and acted as Judges for less than five years before resigning after 1 July 2015.
From 3 September 2018, the new rule 65A of the Uniform General Rules empowers the designated local regulatory authorities to disqualify certain persons as external examiners (EEs) of trust accounts on reasonable grounds. The rule also ensures that procedural fairness applies to persons who are subject to proposed disqualification. The new rule seeks to advance the objective of ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place to uphold the integrity of legal services.
As an additional measure, the LSC has issued a Direction to the designated local regulatory authorities in NSW and Victoria to maintain Public Registers of eligible EEs.