Uniform Law needs to work for everyone in Queensland
4 April 2019
Discussion around whether Queensland would join the Legal Profession Uniform Law (LPUL) has recommenced after Western Australia confirmed in March they would join. QLS President Bill Potts said that the Society would always be open to any reform or scheme that provided a direct benefit to its members and which showed demonstrable economic benefit to Australians.
Queensland has the broadest geographical spread of solicitors of all the states or territories in the country. We have massive professional diversity which includes everything from large city firms, to small, mid-size and large suburban firms and numerous rural and regional firms and practitioners spread across Queensland’s more than 1.85 million square kilometres. The Legal Professional Uniform Law scheme needs to work for everyone.
Mr Potts said that the Society had been reviewing the scheme in the years since it commenced in 2015 in Victoria and New South Wales.
“In line with our objective to advocate for good law and support good lawyers, we wish to assess the positive and negative impacts LPUL has had in the southern States and what would happen if it was applied in Queensland.”
Mr Potts explained that the QLS Council was aware of conflicting views about the scheme throughout the country and had been reluctant to date due to concerns of increasing the costs of running a law firm.
“As a matter of policy, the QLS Council has always been open to entering a uniform or national scheme but has insisted on demonstrable benefit to the broadest group of membership,” he said.
“We are conscious of the need to balance the increased cost to practitioners to fund the further level of bureaucracy of Legal Services Council and Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation with a benefit to the local profession and consumers of legal services.
“However, we are continually reviewing the scheme and meeting with our counterparts in the southern states to learn from their experiences. So far no proof has been provided that LPUL – which has been touted as a micro-economic reform – has in fact resulted in any demonstrable savings for the states who have already adopted this scheme.
“To date, we have maintained a watching brief of the progress of the NSW/VIC union and have been evaluating the underpinning legislation.
“We have proposed adoption of a number of elements relating to trust account regulation to our Department of Justice and Attorney-General.”
Mr Potts said that the Society wanted to hear from its members and would consider all the facts and then come to an informed and educated opinion.
“To that end, we would like to hear from our members on the benefits and drawbacks they anticipate from the LPUL, particularly any direct benefits currently unavailable in the Queensland scheme.
“What form the future regulation of lawyers in Queensland will take should remain in the hands of the profession.”