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Welcome to Uniform Law

News

Cite as: July 2015 89 (7) LIJ, p.26

The LIV is committed to helping practitioners and law practices adapt to their new obligations under the new uniform regime.  

On 1 July 2015, a uniform regulatory regime applying to law practices and lawyers in Victoria and New South Wales commenced. The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) (the Act), the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Schedule 1 of the Act), and subordinate legislation (Uniform Rules) have replaced the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic) (LPA) and regulations made under the LPA.

Many aspects of legal practice under the uniform law regime are unchanged. However, there are significant new obligations for practitioners and law practices, including:

  • government lawyers are required to hold practising certificates under the Uniform Law (with limited exceptions). Government lawyers will have until 30 September 2015 to obtain a practising certificate. For more information, please see the LIV’s fact sheet for government lawyers available at www.liv.asn.au/UniformLaw/GovernmentLawyers.
  • legal costs must be fair, reasonable and proportionate, having regard to matters such as the complexity and urgency of the matter, quality of the work, instructions given and the experience of the lawyers involved;
  • for matters where costs are likely to be between $750 and $3000 (excluding GST and disbursements), law practices can elect to provide disclosure using a uniform standard disclosure form (www.legalservicescouncil.org.au/forprac.html) rather than full disclosure;
  • the consequences of contravening costs disclosure obligations are now much more significant than under the LPA, including that any costs agreement might be void or that the client is not required to pay the legal costs. Failure to comply can also amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct;
  • the Victorian Legal Services Board (LSB) may conduct an audit of a law practice’s compliance with the Uniform Law and Uniform Rules if the LSB considers there are reasonable grounds to do so;
  • after an audit, the LSB may give a management system direction to the law practice, which requires the implementation and maintenance of appropriate management systems, and the provision of periodic reports to the LSB. Failure to comply with a management system direction can lead to disqualification of the law practice; and
  • principals of law practices must take reasonable steps to ensure that all legal practitioners of the law practice comply with the Uniform Law and Uniform Rules, and that the legal services provided by the law practice also comply. Principals may also be liable for contraventions of the Uniform Law or Uniform Rules by the law practice, and this may amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
  • It is important that practitioners become familiar with the Act, the Uniform Law and the Uniform Rules to fully understand their obligations and those of their law practice. The LIV is committed to helping practitioners and law practices learn about and adapt to the requirements of the uniform regime. The table sets out the current and future LIV resources available to members of the LIV. All resources are available at www.liv.asn.au/uniformlaw. Call the practice support line ph 9607 9378 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

    LIV’s Current resources
  • Guidebook summarising the key provisions in the Act, Uniform Law and Uniform Rules emailed to members;
  • Fact sheets on specific focus areas;
  • LPUL compliant costs precedents online and hard copy;
  • Checklists to assist practitioners and law practices;
  • Dedicated email address (lpul@liv.asn.au) for member queries;
  • Legal Profession Uniform Law hub (www.liv.asn.au/ uniformlaw) on the LIV website; and
  • Extension of practice support line (9607 9378) to 5 days a week, 9am to 5pm.
  • Future resources
  • Presentations to regional and suburban law associations;
  • Regular updates through LawNews, the LIJ and other channels;
  • Face-to-face professional development seminars on specific focus areas;
  • Professional development webinars on specific areas;
  • Communication of frequently asked questions & answers;
  • Targeted guidance on topical issues, such as legal costs;
  • Interactive sessions with LIV staff members to answer your questions; and
  • August LIJ legal feature on providing cost estimates.
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