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Practising Certificates 2008-2009


News

Cite as: (2008) 82(4) LIJ, p. 18

Practising certificate renewals are due by 30 April and practitioners need to pay close attention to the forms to ensure their successful completion.

Practising certificate renewal forms were sent out by the Legal Services Board (LSB) at the end of March. The LIV, as delegate to the LSB, is responsible for processing practising certificate renewals for all solicitors. All inquiries about practising certificate renewals should be directed to the LIV in the first instance.

Renewals documentation

All legal practitioners who hold a current practising certificate should have received a practising certificate renewal form from the LSB. The form is pre-printed with name, contact details, practising certificate type and place of employment.

If you work in a practice with a number of other practitioners, your form will have been sent to the main practice address as part of a bundle of forms.

If you haven’t received your practising certificate renewal form by the end of the first week in April, visit the LIV website at http://www.liv.asn.au/regulation to download a replacement form, or contact the LIV Practitioners’ Information Centre on ph 9607 9508.

Lodgment deadline

Practitioners holding a current practising certificate on 30 April 2008 must lodge their completed renewal forms with the LIV by 30 April 2008.

Practitioners who commence/recommence practice between 1 May and 30 June 2008 must lodge their forms by 30 June 2008.

Lodgment dates are set by the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic). Surcharges apply to late applications.

Important information

This year, the LSB has identified key questions on the renewal form that must be answered by all applicants. If you do not answer one or more of these mandatory questions your form cannot be processed, and it will be returned to you.

You may be liable for late lodgment surcharges if you do not lodge a correctly completed form by the relevant deadline. In addition, if you fail to lodge a correctly completed form by 30 June, your current practising certificate will expire on 30 June 2008, and you will no longer hold a valid local practising certificate. For this reason, it is extremely important that you double check your form for errors and omissions before lodgment.

Each mandatory question is marked with either a small red asterisk or a small red cross.

Who should renew?

The Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic) requires that a practitioner who holds a practising certificate as of 30 June, and who intends to practise law during July, August or September 2008, must renew their practising certificate by the lodgment deadline.

If you do not lodge a completed form with the LIV by the due date you may be subject to late lodgment surcharges.

Not renewing?

If you do not intend to renew your practising certificate, please tick the “not renewing” box in question 1 on the form, amend your employment details at questions 3 and 7, and return your form to the LIV by the lodgment deadline.

This will complete your LSB practice record, and ensure that the LIV takes no further action to follow up the lodgment of your application.

Late lodgment surcharges

The following surcharges apply to applications received after the lodged deadline:

1-31 May – 25 per cent surcharge;

1-30 June – 50 per cent surcharge;

1 July – 30 September – 200 per cent surcharge.

Non-receipt of the renewal form generally will not be considered sufficient reason for exemption from the surcharges.

It is the responsibility of each practitioner to ensure that their renewal form is lodged by the renewal deadline.

If you do not renew your practising certificate by 30 June 2008, your practising history will show that you do not hold a local practising certificate from 1 July 2008 onwards.

The penalty for engaging in legal practice without a current practising certificate is two years’ imprisonment.

Refund of surcharges

Surcharges for late lodgment of practising certificate applications may be refunded if the LIV or LSB deems that “special circumstances” apply.

If you lodge your application after the lodgment deadline, you must include payment of the surcharge with your application, regardless of whether you believe special circumstances apply. Your application cannot be processed until payment of the surcharge is provided.

To request a refund, include a written request for a refund with your application, stating the “special circumstances” that you believe make you eligible for a refund.

New and recommencing practitioners

A practising certificate renewal form is not the same as an initial application for a practising certificate. You cannot renew a practising certificate that you do not hold.

Everyone who commences/recommences legal practice must lodge an initial application for a practising certificate in addition to lodging the practising certificate renewal form. Both forms can be lodged at the same time.

Initial practising certificate application forms are available from the regulation section of the LIV website at http://www.liv.asn.au/regulation and from the LIV Practitioners’ Information Centre on ph 9607 9508.

Form design

The LSB renewals application form comes in two parts: a 4-page form that you need to complete and lodge with the LIV by the renewals deadline, and a 4-page notes section that provides details of the legal requirements for renewing your practising certificate. It is important that you read the notes pages carefully.

The LIV has prepared a simple illustrated guide to help practitioners complete their 2008-2009 practising certificate renewal form. The guide is available on the LIV website at http://www.liv.asn.au/renewals.

Wrong information?

It is important that you change any incorrect information that is pre-printed on the practising certificate renewal form.

The renewal form allows you to vary your practising certificate type as from 1 July 2008. It is extremely important that you check that the form correctly specifies the practising certificate type and trust authorisation that you wish to hold from 1 July 2008. If it does not, amend the form accordingly.

If you wish to vary your practising certificate from a date other than 1 July 2008, you must lodge a separate variation form. For further details, please contact the Practitioners’ Information Centre.

Authorisation to receive trust money

You must not receive trust money unless you hold a practising certificate authorising the receipt of trust money. If you wish to be authorised to receive trust money from 1 July 2008, tick “Yes” at question 10 on the form. If you apply to be authorised to receive trust money, and have never previously been authorised to receive trust money, you must complete the LIV approved trust account seminar. You cannot be issued with a practising certificate authorising the receipt of trust money until you complete this requirement.

Supervised legal practice

All practitioners who took out their first practising certificate on or after 12 December 2005 are subject to a supervised legal practice requirement unless they have been exempted from the requirement by the LSB, or unless they have had an application for the removal of the condition approved.

Details of how to apply to have the supervised legal practice condition removed are available on the LSB website at http://www.lsb.vic.gov.au/reports.asp.

Fit and proper person

Question 12 relates to your fitness to practise, and is a mandatory question. If you do not answer both part (a) and part (b) of the question your form cannot be processed, and will be returned to you.

Note H (in the notes pages that accompany the form) outlines a number of suitability matters that may be taken into account in determining whether or not you are a fit and proper person. If any of these matters apply to you, and you have not previously disclosed them to the LSB, you must include a written statement with your application that discloses the matters, and that explains why you consider yourself fit and proper to hold a practising certificate. If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular matter is covered by the suitability requirements, the best course of action will generally be to disclose it. Please ensure that your statement is securely attached to your application.

Show cause events

Question 13 relates to show cause events, and is a mandatory question. If you do not answer both part (a) and part (b) of the question your form cannot be processed, and will be returned to you.

If you answer “Yes” to either part of the question, you must include with your application a written statement explaining why you consider yourself to be a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate. Please ensure that your statement is securely attached to your application. The LIV will provide copies of all show cause event statements to the LSB.

Professional indemnity insurance

Principal practitioners renewing their practising certificate must obtain the necessary level of professional indemnity insurance for themselves and their employee solicitors by 31 May 2008. Professional indemnity insurance must be obtained from the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee (LPLC), ph 9670 2001.

If your practice has an LSB exemption from the requirement to obtain professional indemnity insurance from the LPLC, you must contact the LSB to ensure that your exemption remains current throughout the next practising year.

Likewise, overseas practitioners must ensure that they make their professional indemnity insurance undertaking to the LSB before 31 May.

Your practising certificate will not take effect on 1 July if you are not covered by the required level of professional indemnity insurance.

Continuing professional development

You must answer the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Scheme question. If you are exempt from undertaking 10 units, and have completed the number of units you are required to undertake after receiving the exemption, then you can tick “Yes” to the CPD question. Similarly, if you are a new or recommencing practitioner, you may not be required to undertake 10 units of CPD in order to meet your obligations. Visit http://www.cpd.liv.asn.au for more detailed information about CPD requirements.

Statutory declaration

There is a statutory declaration at the end of the form. The declaration is mandatory, and your form cannot be processed unless the statutory declaration is completed correctly.

Privacy information consent

Although the LIV is delegated to administer the issuing of practising certificates on behalf of the LSB, it cannot make use of any information that you provide on your renewal form for membership purposes unless you explicitly give your consent at item 15 on the form. This includes address details for the purpose of sending you updates and course information. If you wish to receive up-to-date information from the LIV, it is important that you tick and sign the relevant privacy information consent box.

Fees and contributions

Practising certificate fees are set by the Legal Profession Act 2004 and Fidelity Fund contributions are set by the LSB. These fees and contributions are listed in the notes pages that accompany the renewal form. Applications that do not include correct payment cannot be processed.

If you are varying your practising certificate type, if you are changing your trust authorisation status, or if you are authorised to receive trust and have recently changed practices, please double check the fees and contributions amounts that have been pre- printed on your renewal form, and amend them if necessary.

If you lodge your application after the due date, you must include the relevant late lodgment surcharge with your application.

Payment options

Practising certificate fees and Fidelity Fund contributions can be paid by credit card, cheque, cash and money order.

Cheques and money orders should be made payable to the Legal Services Board PC Fees Account.

Payment receipts will be forwarded after payment has been received. Note that practising certificate fees and Fidelity Fund contributions are GST exempt.

Your certificate

Each practising certificate renewal form that is lodged is individually checked to ensure that it meets the criteria for the issuing of a practising certificate.

Your certificate will be printed when your application passes all checks including payment of all fees, and payment of professional indemnity insurance as required. Applicants who lodge a fully completed renewal form by the 30 April due date should receive their certificate by the end of June 2008, in time for the new practising year.

Practising certificates renewals checklist

All practitioners

  • Carefully read all pages of the renewal form including the notes pages, before filling in the form
  • Check that all pre-printed details are correct and amend the form if necessary
  • Make sure that the practising certificate type and trust authorisation type are as required from 1 July 2008
  • Complete the form, paying particular attention to the questions marked as being mandatory
  • Complete the statutory declaration at the end of the form
  • Ensure correct payment is included with your lodgment/your firm’s lodgment

New and recommencing practitioners

  • Lodge initial application for practising certificate form in addition to practising certificate renewal form

Principal practitioners

  • Arrange payment of professional indemnity insurance for yourself and your employees by 31 May 2008 (contact the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee on ph 9670 2001)
  • Practitioners authorised to receive trust money
  • Ensure that all outstanding audit obligations have been met

Practitioners living overseas

  • Ensure your form is lodged by the lodgment date (you can lodge via email or fax)
  • Ensure that you lodge your professional indemnity insurance undertaking with the LSB before 31 May 2008

Further information on renewals

Practitioners’ Information Centre

Law Institute of Victoria
470 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
Ph 9607 9508 Fax 9602 5270
Email pcrenewals@liv.asn.au
Website http://www.liv.asn.au/renewals

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