Queensland Law Society

Are you working without a practising certificate?

The renewals period has now ended and all Queensland legal practitioners should have received a 2018/19 practising certificate. If you have not received your certificate yet, please contact Records and Member Services urgently by telephone on 1300 367 757 or email records@qls.com.au .

Engaging in legal practice without a valid practising certificate is a serious matter. It amounts to a breach of sections 24 and 25 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act). It is a suitability matter which the Society may take into account in determining whether a practitioner is a fit and proper person to hold a certificate and it is a matter which the Society may take into account in determining whether it believes that grounds exist to amend, suspend or cancel a certificate.

It is a legal professional obligation for practitioners to maintain a valid practising certificate, so policies of professional Indemnity insurance are unlikely to cover practitioners during periods of unlicensed practice. Any practitioner who becomes aware that they will not been covered by professional indemnity insurance that complies with the Act has an obligation under section 354 of the Act to notify that matter to the Society in the approved form.

As part of its regulatory responsibility, the Society reports incidents of unlicensed and uninsured practice to the Legal Services Commission, which may result in the commissioner bringing disciplinary proceedings against the practitioner. It is also likely that any professional fees earned during an unlicensed period will have to be refunded to clients, as an unlicensed practitioner is not entitled to those fees.

Incorporated legal practices must have at least one legal practitioner director who holds a principal practising certificate at all times. Under section 119 of the Act, the practice must give notice to the Society in the approved form as soon as possible after the practice stops having a legal practitioner director. This requirement is especially relevant to incorporated legal practices with a sole legal practitioner director when that person fails to maintain a valid principal practising certificate.