​Recent changes

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. Recent changes are listed below.

New barristers' CPD rule

On 6 December 2019, after consultation with all Australian Bars, regulatory authorities in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, and the public, the Legal Services Council (LSC) made the Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Barristers) Amendment (CPD Activity) Rule 2019 (Rule) under s 419 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014 (Uniform Law). The Rule amends rules 5 and 6 and creates a new rule 6A of the Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Barristers) Rules 2015. It commenced on 13 December 2019.

The LSC is concerned that the high standards of the profession are maintained and quality services continue to be rendered to consumers, by CPD points being allocated only to activities that are current, relevant and likely to increase the knowledge and skills of legal practitioners. 

The effect of the Rule is to provide barristers with:

  • Clarity about the qualitative content of a CPD activity - by plainly stating that a CPD activity must be relevant to the barrister's professional development needs in relation to the barrister's practice of the law.

  • Guidance about the types of activities in various formats that may comprise a CPD activity - by creating a list of the same.

Amendment of the Uniform General Rules supporting Chapter 4 of the Uniform Law

On 6 December 2019, after consulting widely with stakeholders and the public, the Legal Services Council (LSC) made the Legal Profession Uniform General Amendment (Miscellaneous) Rule 2019 (Rule) under s 419 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014 (Uniform Law). As well as clarifying the usual duration of a practising certificate, the Rule amends the Uniform General Rules (UGRs) that support various provisions in Chapter 4 of the Uniform Law, specifically UGRs 17, 38, 54, 63, 64 and 93; and creates new UGRs 91E and 95A.  It commenced on 13 December 2019.

The effect of the amendments is to:

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

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

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

  • Save solicitors' time and increase 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.

  • Allow 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 and accessible at all times to an external intervenor, an investigator and a person conducting a compliance audit.

Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Amendment Act 2019 (Vic)

On 17 September 2019, the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Amendment Act 2019 (Vic) was given the Royal Assent, officially paving the way for Western Australia to become the third jurisdiction to join the Uniform Law Scheme. Part 2 of the Bill, which deals with changes to the governance arrangements for the Legal Services Council, commenced on proclamation, in order to synchronize with the passage of the Western Australian Application legislation.