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Law Institute advocacy

Every Issue

Cite as: (2002) 76(11) LIJ, p.12

To represent the interests of members and the wider community, the Law Institute actively seeks to influence policy and legislation through lobbying and submissions to government, the courts and other bodies.

UNQUALIFIED PRACTICE

The Law Institute, through its Professional Standards Department, launched a public awareness campaign to inform the community about the risks of obtaining legal advice from unqualified people. This is a big issue for practitioners, particularly in suburban and regional areas. There have been several recent cases of business people engaging in unqualified practice, including one in the Federal Court involving the prosecution by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission of a will-making company with strong connections to Victoria. The Court held that the services provided by the company were unlawful in nature and therefore in breach of the Trade Practices Act.

As part of a vigilance campaign, members of the public have been encouraged to turn whistleblower and provide information to Professional Standards about those that give unqualified advice, particularly in conveyancing matters and wills.

Under the Legal Practice Act, a person must not engage in legal practice in Victoria unless that person is admitted to legal practice, holds a practising certificate, is an incorporated practitioner that holds a practising certificate or is an interstate practitioner, other than an interstate practitioner who is suspended or prohibited from engaging in legal practice in Victoria. A person convicted of a criminal charge of unqualified legal practice can be jailed for up to two years.

SUBURBAN MEETINGS

Institute president David Faram attended the Eastern Suburbs Law Association meeting, with about 50 people in attendance. Mr Faram outlined the current issues facing practitioners, and he made it clear that the suburban and country associations were the lifeblood of the Institute. More work will be done next year to build a greater sense of connection with the Institute for practitioners outside the city area. Mr Faram has written to the Southern Solicitors Group and the Northern Suburbs Law Association to arrange further meetings of the Council in these areas, similar to that which occurred in February this year when the Institute Council held its regular Council meeting in Camberwell in conjunction with the Eastern Suburb’s Law Association.

FAMILY VIOLENCE

The Law Institute, through the Family Law Section, has written to the Family Violence Committee to advise that the Institute is satisfied with the existing policies of the Melbourne registry of the Family Court in dealing with family violence. The registry provides parameters to guide judicial officers and staff in managing these issues.

INTERVENTION ORDERS

The Family Law Section of the Institute has written to the Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, to express its support for the proposed amendments to the Crimes (Family Violence) Act 1987 to provide for intervention orders by consent. At a meeting with Mr Hulls in late August, the Family Law Section raised its concerns about the effects of the case Stephens v Melis and the Magistrates Court at Moe [2002] VSC 263 (28 June 2002), in which Justice Thomas Smith determined that a magistrate has no jurisdiction to make an intervention order by consent. While it is the view of the Family Law Section that this decision was correct on the basis of existing laws, its practical implications are significant and has raised concerns for magistrates and legal practitioners. Women statistically form the largest number of complainants and they could be hesitant in pursuing applications for intervention orders if obliged to give evidence even when the defendant consents to orders.

LIMITATION OF ACTIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT 2002

The Limitation of Actions (Amendment) Act 2002, which amended the Limitation of Actions Act 1958 to reduce the limitation period on most actions for personal injuries from six years to three years, was debated in state Parliament. The Institute made submissions to the government on this Bill, arguing that the limitation period for personal injury matters should remain at six years or alternatively, that TAC and Work Cover should be exempt from the operation of the amendment. The submission can be viewed at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs. House amendments exempting TAC and Work Cover were subsequently moved and passed, as advocated by the Institute. Further details of the amendments can be obtained from Litigation Lawyers Section manager Sarah Gaden on 9607 9383.

CONSTITUTION COMMISSION

Mr Faram has congratulated the state government for promptly introducing the Constitution (Parliamentary Reform) Bill into Parliament. While the Institute had not yet had the opportunity to review the Bill in detail, it was important that proper attention be given to the final recommendation of the Constitution Convention, namely that “human rights of Victoria’s citizens, based on the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ and other international instruments, should be recognised as guiding principles in the Constitution”, Mr Faram said. In a letter to the Premier’s office, Mr Faram said he agreed with the government’s decision not to reflect in the Bill the human rights recommendation because the relevant issues had not been adequately canvassed in the Constitution Commission report. Instead, Mr Faram said the government should express general support for the human rights recommendation and the Victorian Law Reform Commission should next consider and report back on the preferred model for human rights protection. The Commission had the legal expertise to grapple with such complex legal issues, Mr Faram said.

VISION FOR JUSTICE

Institute CEO John Cain and Mr Faram attended a Department of Justice conference “A vision for justice in Victoria over the next decade”. The panel discussion provided food for thought about a range of legal issues, including how the wider community viewed the justice system. The process of judicial appointments and managing pathways through the justice system was also discussed. The conference, held over two days, was attended by a number of legal luminaries including Judge Jennifer Coate, the head of the Children’s Court, Professor Julian Disney of the NSW Social Justice Project, Dr David Neal of the Victorian Bar, Professor Arie Freiberg of the University of Melbourne’s criminology department and Chief Magistrate of the Magistrates’ Court Ian Gray.

MONASH UNIVERSITY

Mr Faram was a member of a panel at Monash University’s law faculty reviewing the entire course including its undergraduate curriculum, post-graduate program and big-picture items that deal with the practice of law over the next decade. The Institute was formally invited to take part in the university’s review process.

TRAVEL BUG

During October, Mr Faram worked very hard to win the award for the greatest distance travelled by a President in a week. He flew to Perth for the High Court Dinner, only to have to fly back a day later for a President’s luncheon in Melbourne given for the outgoing Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson. Mr Faram also went to Sydney for the NSW Law Society Annual Dinner, returned to Melbourne for the Life Members’ Dinner at the Windsor Hotel and then headed back to Sydney for a conference.

LEO CUSSEN CEREMONY

Mr Faram attended the practical training course final ceremony at the Leo Cussen Institute. Awards were given for handling solicitors’ files, advocacy and legal research. Certificates were handed out to the winners who also received prizes from Butterworths.

PAUL CONROY is the Law Institute’s media adviser. He is also available to help members with particular media issues and can be contacted on 9607 9373 or pconroy@liv.asn.au.

LIV and the media

Legal aid
LIV holds legal aid meetings across state
14 October WIN Bendigo, WIN Ballarat and South West, ABC radio Melbourne, ABC radio Gippsland, Latrobe Valley Express, 3AK, SBS radio, 3SR Shepparton
15 October The Age, The Bendigo Advertiser, Shepparton News, 3BO Bendigo, ABC radio Gippsland, Pulse FM
16 October Geelong Advertiser, ABC radio Gippsland
17 October Latrobe Valley Express
19 October Ballarat Courier
Negligence law review
LIV attacks knee-jerk reforms in federal government report
2 October ABC radio (drive program)
4 October Australian Financial Review
Election – law and order
LIV calls for constructive debate in lead-up to election
2 October ABC TV
29 October The Age, ABC radio, WIN Shepparton
30 October Herald Sun
High Court ruling
LIV discusses High Court ruling that prevents a woman moving overseas with her child
5 October The Age
Splitting the difference
LIV discusses property issues when a marriage fails
2 October The Age
Outlawing discrimination
LIV joins alliance against discrimination of socially disadvantaged
7 October The Age
State government inquiry into the
road toll
LIV outlines its submission to parliamentary committee
13 October Sunday Age
Young offenders in jail
LIV calls for law change on 17-year-olds in prison
7 October Triple J ABC, ABC radio
Dummy bidding laws
LIV welcomes new home auction legislation
10 October ABC TV
11 October Gold FM, MIX FM
13 October Sunday Herald Sun
Begging laws
LIV endorses push to change begging laws
31 October The Age

advocacy@liv.asn.au

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