11 December 2019
Some great news to report this week in that the Motor Accident Insurance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 received royal assent on 5 December. This is the legislation otherwise known as the claim farming reforms and its commencement is not before time.
QLS has been at the forefront of the push for an end to the pernicious practice of claim-farming, which seeks to take advantage of people at their lowest ebb and diminishes our practice by its existence. These reforms were a culmination of significant advocacy on behalf of the QLS over a number of years. The legal policy team, members of our Accident Compensation and Tort Law Committee and three Presidents have worked hard to get this across the line.
We are pleased to see these reforms are now in force and commend the Motor Accident Insurance Commission for the significant work and the level of consultation it has undertaken with various stakeholders including the QLS, to ensure that these measures continue to protect and maintain the affordability and stability of Queensland’s statutory Compulsory Third Party Scheme.
You can check the legislation out here and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission have provided a detailed overview to assist. Their website also has links to the new forms accompanying the regime.
Key aspects of the changes include an express prohibition on the giving or receiving of consideration for a claim referral or potential claim referral, except where an exclusion applies. Substantial penalties and potential disciplinary action may be taken for breaches of these provisions.
The QLS Ethics and Practice Centre and indeed, the Society emphasises that even where an exclusion applies, all solicitors must still be mindful of their ethical obligations with respect to the paying and receiving of referral fees under the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 (ASCR), specifically rules 12.4.3 and 12.4.4.
As a member, you can also contact QLS Solicitor Support if you have any questions about the claims farming changes, legal ethics or if you require practice support guidance.
The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated. Not only does it protect consumers, it also is a great example of we solicitors holding ourselves to a higher standard. One of the hallmarks of a true profession is the ability to regulate itself, and not do the right thing simply because of a fear of punishment.
By driving this legislation we show to the community that we won’t sit around and wait for the government to set standards for our profession, we are actively involved in the setting and maintaining of those standards. Very well done to all who contributed to this great result!
Members may also have seen some recent reporting about the CTP scheme which inaccurately described the application of the 50/50 rule and unfairly represented the conduct of our members. The Society does not accept the inaccuracy reflected in these statements, which unfairly call into question the absolute professionalism and conduct of the vast majority of our membership, nor does it reflect the law. Members can be assured that QLS will be addressing these issues with the parties directly.
On a sad note – for me at least – this is the last Presidential Update for the year. One of the great privileges of this position is the ability to communicate with our members, and Update is one of the most powerful ways I can regularly do that.
I have enjoyed this conversation with you all, and not just because it is largely one-sided and I always get the last word in! I have received great feedback on this column throughout the year - and yes, an occasional critical word too – and I will miss it, the good and the bad. That dialogue with membership has always been what has driven me on council over the years, and now through two terms as President. Many thanks for the privilege of being your president and being able to have that conversation.
I will close off by noting that it is of course officially the silly season, and we call it that for a reason. Now is the time to let our hair down a little, relax and get a good break in before the New Year rolls around—but let’s keep it on the safe side of silly, shall we? QLS values each and every one of our members, and their families, and we want to welcome everyone back hale and hearty for another great year in 2020.
So stay safe, and use this season for what it is meant: connect with your loved ones, and spend time with them however you can. Inevitably they will have borne some of the burden our profession can at times produce, whether it is due to us working late, being under the pump and grumpy or simply not having the time we would like to spend with them.
Christmas is the time to make up for this and to truly appreciate everything our families, friends and other loved ones (including our fur babies!) do for us. Enjoy the break with them and have a safe and happy Christmas!
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