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.
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.
From 1 July 2018, new laws on managed investment schemes apply to the legal profession in Victoria and New South Wales. Section 258 of the Uniform Law prohibits law practices and their related entities from promoting or operating a managed investment scheme. The civil penalty for contravention of this provision is 250 penalty units. Section 258(1A) of the Uniform Law exempts from the prohibition certain arrangements, for example, service trusts related to internal firm structures. Section 258(2) of the Uniform Law provides for exceptions to the prohibition in cases of insolvency or administration of the managed investment scheme.
From 1 July 2018, new Legal Profession General Uniform Rules on managed investment schemes apply to law practices and their related entities. Rule 91A of the General Uniform Rules outlines what is a 'related entity' for the purposes of section 258. In accordance with section 258(3) of the Uniform Law, a law practice is permitted to provide legal services to a client where the circumstances in rule 91B of the General Uniform Rules are satisfied. Rule 91C of the General Uniform Rules exempts certain mortgages from the prohibition contained in section 258(4) of the Uniform Law. Rule 91D of the General Uniform Rules specifies the classes of body related to the definition of 'financial institution' in section 258(5) of the Uniform Law.