Have your say on the proposed new rule regarding law practice administration

Date issued: 17 July 2019

The Legal Services Council (LSC) invites public comment on the draft Legal Profession Uniform Amendment (Miscellaneous) Rule 2019 (Draft Rule) in accordance with s 425 of the Uniform Law (UL). As well as clarifying the usual duration of a practising certificate, the Draft Rule proposes to amend the Uniform General Rules (UGRs) that support various provisions in Chapter 4 UL.

In summary, the Draft Rule, if made, will amend the UGRs by:

  • Clarifying the duration of a practising certificate that is not suspended, cancelled or surrendered - to expressly include 30 June as its last day.

  • Assisting solicitors of law practices holding money received in certain circumstances for investment purposes and/or money received pursuant to a written direction, to comply with their obligations regarding these types of trust money - by creating new categories to account for them. 

  • Promoting efficiency, certainty and safety in complying with a client's directions to withdraw controlled moneys - by creating a hierarchy of authorised people who may withdraw money from the relevant controlled money account if the principal of the law practice is unavailable.

  • Promoting clarity and accountability - by specifying the details a law practice must record when payments are made from a controlled money account.

  • Enhancing order and transparency - by mandating that a solicitor's law practice opens and maintains a file for each matter.

  • Saving solicitors' time and increasing the efficiency of routine auditing - by mandating that a law practice record the location of any regulated property related to a matter in the register of files opened.

  • Allowing efficient auditing and file transfer by setting a standard as to how registers of files opened, registers of safe custody documents and registers of financial interests are to be maintained -  including legibly, in English, in one document and accessible at all times to an external intervenor, an investigator and a person conducting a compliance audit.

The Draft Rule is publically released for written submissions for a minimum period of 30 days in accordance with s 425(3)(b) UL. Submissions may be sent to the LSC by email to: submissions@legalservicescouncil.org.au on or before Monday 19 August 2019.