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LIV Advocacy

Every Issue

Cite as: December 2015 89 (12) LIJ, p.84

SUBMISSIONS

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

The LIV Criminal Law Section has made a submission to the Attorney-General on sentencing options for drug related offending. The LIV has submitted that the current approach to sentencing for drug offences is failing, evident in the increasing recidivism rate for drug offences. One of the primary reasons for this failure is that most current sentencing options do not address the causes of drug offending, which include addiction, mental health issues and social exclusion. A multifaceted approach would promote the interests of the broader community by reducing reoffending, promoting a higher return on investment in the justice system, and leading to positive social engagement of former offenders in the community.

Recommendations include: expansion of the Drug Court into Melbourne CBD and regional hubs; better use of the residential treatment conditions available on CCOs; fast-tracking of CCO contravention hearings modelled on the HOPE program; and the development of drug treatment units at prisons and secure treatment facilities.

Land Victoria requirements for paper conveyancing

On 24 September, the Registrar of Titles, through Land Victoria, announced the Registrar’s requirements for paper conveyancing transactions. The new requirements will affect practitioners involved in property transactions and conveyancers, and represent significant changes to the way they undertake paper conveyancing. The Registrar’s requirements relating to verification of identity (VOI) commenced on 9 November 2015 (and 1 December 2015 for non-represented parties), as did the Registrar’s requirements requiring lawyers and conveyancers to verify that the client has the right to enter into the property transaction.

The LIV, in a submission to Land Victoria, expressed concern that there was insufficient lead-time for the commencement of the VOI requirements. The LIV submitted that there should be a reasonable period of time for practitioners to learn about and understand the VOI requirements before these requirements are imposed.

Legal education in Australia

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has been consulting with constituent bodies, the Council of Australian Law Deans and the Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC), to determine the most significant current legal education issues in Australia to inform the focus of a potential symposium on legal education. As part of the consultation, the LCA prepared a discussion paper on legal education in Australia. To inform its submission to the discussion paper, the LIV developed a survey which captured a large number of responses from a broad cross-section of its membership. The LIV would like to thank all members who participated in the survey.

Through the LIV survey, members voiced their concerns about the large number of law schools and graduates in Victoria, the perceived lack of practical training and the need to integrate innovative technologies and related skills throughout the legal education process.

Earlier this year, the LIV also made a submission to the LACC’s limited review of academic requirements for admission to legal practice.

Migration Bills

The LIV made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill 2015. The LIV expressed concern that the Bill contains strong penalties for migrant workers, a vulnerable group already subject to exploitation and poor treatment in the Australian workforce. The Bill introduces a strict liability penalty with heavy fines for migrant workers who pay or offer to pay for sponsorship. The Bill also includes a discretionary power to cancel the visa of an applicant in these circumstances. The LIV is concerned that these penalties are disproportionate and may have the practical effect of deterring migrant workers in exploitative situations from coming forward to seek assistance.

The LIV also sent a memorandum to the LCA for another Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill (No 1) 2015. The LIV noted that it is important for the Australian government to reconsider the current balance between maintaining the integrity of the migration program and protecting the Australian community and the consequences that flow from broad detention, cancellation and removal powers. It is the LIV’s position that this Bill does not strike the right balance, as it excessively restricts the rights of non-citizens, including their rights to freedom, procedural fairness and privacy.

(No Jab, No Pay) Bill 2015

The LIV’s submission to the Senate standing committee on community affairs inquiry supported the purpose of the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill to increase childhood vaccinations. However, the LIV raised concerns that the punitive approach taken by the Bill (removing eligibility for tax benefit supplements, child care benefits and rebates from families whose children are not vaccinated) does not prioritise the best interests of the child and is likely to be ineffective in significantly raising vaccination rates. The LIV was invited to attend the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s public hearing on this Bill in Brisbane.

Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse

The LIV made a submission to the Department of Justice and Regulation responding to the discussion questions outlined in ‘A Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse’ – a public consultation paper. While the LIV agrees with the recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that a federal scheme is ideal, it acknowledges the potential barriers and delays inherent in establishing such a scheme. In its absence the LIV believes it is important that Victoria establishes a redress scheme as soon as possible. The submission addressed the discussion questions in detail, based on comments from members.

REPRESENTATION

Australian Academy of Law Symposium

LIV president Katie Miller attended the Australian Academy of Law Symposium where the topic was the critical importance of protecting independent advisers and organs of government. Professor of International Law and Human Rights at ANU Hilary Charlesworth spoke about the UN Guidance Note on Democracy. Her assessment was that, in fundamental respects, Australia is failing to meet that standard, reinforcing the importance of LIV’s advocacy on rule of law and integrity issues.

Australian Internet Governance Forum

The Australian Internet Governance Forum was a two-day conference hosted by auDA, the registry for .au domain names. The conference was attended by lawyers, technologists and corporates and provided an important backdrop for the technology issues that have become an everyday part of life. Ms Miller attended sessions on gender equality, data retention, dispute resolution processes for disputed domain names and security of domain names.

Bias and Royal Commissions

Ms Miller attended a seminar held by the Australian Institute of Administrative Law where Monash University Law School’s Professor Matthew Groves examined the ACTU’s allegations of bias by Commissioner Dyson Heydon in respect of the Trade Union Royal Commission.

Legal education review

The Law Admissions Consultative Committee is considering a paper by Richard Besley on conducting an external study on legal admission and education arrangements in Australia. LIV CEO Nerida Wallace was involved in a discussion about the paper.

Legal Services Council

Ms Wallace discussed the implementation of the Legal Profession Uniform Law in Victoria and presented the concerns of Victorian practitioners about estimates, such as the inability to describe ranges, anti-voiding rules, the requirement to provide original trust receipts and the new requirement to obtain agreements in all circumstances before withdrawal of trust monies.

Melbourne Arbitration Centre strategy review

The Department of Justice and Regulation is reviewing the operation of the Centre, looking at options for development of the market here and overseas, and at the best ways to develop the existing facilities in the CBD. Ms Wallace presented the LIV’s position, which is that the Centre should be a viable and serious option for local arbitrations and mediations.

  • LIV members offer their commitment, diversity and expertise to promote justice for all, advancing social and public welfare, education and public confidence in the legal profession.
  • People in need of legal help are directed to the LIV’s Find Your Lawyer Referral Service – call 9607 9550, 9.30am–5pm, Monday to Friday.
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