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Surge in inquiries to LIV practice support lines

Surge in inquiries to LIV practice support lines

By Karin Derkley

COVID-19 Practice Management 

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Calls to the LIV's practice support line are expected to surge again when new regulations around remote signing and witnessing of documents are released by the Victorian state government.

Inquiries have already increased over the past couple of months as the profession has had to absorb a slew of changes and new regulations under COVID-19.

The LIV's Head of Ethics, Wellbeing and Practitioner Support Donna Cooper says there has been a spike in inquiries every time the government makes a new announcement.

"Members have been calling in seeking guidance as to how the changes affect their daily legal practice," she says.

Any new regulations around remote witnessing and execution of documents are likely to prompt a spate of new inquiries, she says. “If new regulations come into force, they will impact a large majority of the profession. It will be one of the biggest changes that we will have seen since the introduction of the Uniform Law.”

The CEOs of the LIV, LPLC, VLSB+C and VicBar are working together to support the profession and consumers in coping with this new landscape, Ms Cooper says.

Inquiry numbers have steadily jumped since February as the support lines have continued to operate as normal during the pandemic lockdown period, with calls going through to the ethics and professional practice team working from home.

Among other frequent questions coming in to the team are about property transactions, especially how to deal with clients who are no longer able to settle after having lost their jobs or been unable to obtain finance because of the pandemic.

"Some members have queried whether or not there could be a special condition drafted up for this COVID-19 period.”

Questions about employment law have also been common, including callers who have been stood down asking what they should do with their practising certificate as a result.

However, the LIV is still receiving many of the usual non-COVID-19 related queries, Ms Cooper says, “anything from potential conflict of interest to starting up an ILP”.

Ms Cooper says she welcomes inquiries from members as a way of informing the content of upcoming webinars and refining guidance for members.

"For instance, when providing guidance on any new regulations, we try to look at them from every angle: from the insurers' angle, from the regulators' angle and also in terms of what our members need guidance on day to day because they're the ones at the coal face.

“If and when new regulations come into force on witnessing and execution of documents, the LIV will run a webinar on this topic which will address some of the most frequent questions that we find members are wrestling with,” she says.

Members can call the ethics and professional practice support line on 9607 9378.


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