Practising certificate fees for 2008-09
As I mentioned in my In Brief message of 11 April 2008, Bar Council has approved some sharp practicing certificate fee increases for 2008-2009. The Legal Profession Act 2004 requires us to obtain the approval of the Attorney General for these increases.ï¿½ On 21 April the Attorney General approved the increases. I am now in a position to notify you of the new fees. A schedule setting out the 2008-2009 practising certificate and membership fees is attached.
As I explained in my earlier message, the fee increases are an unfortunate necessity in view of a projected operating deficit for the Association in 2007-2008. The background is that the Bar Council, in March 2007, adopted a budget for the financial year 2007â2008 forecasting a deficit of about $470,000.ï¿½ Underpinning this budget was a continuing desire to keep increases in Practising Certificate fees to an absolute minimum to alleviate hardship being suffered by many members of the Bar.ï¿½
Unfortunately, the costs of completing the successful Library renovation have been higher than originally expected.ï¿½ The Association has also incurred unforeseen taxation liabilities. Overall, despite all endeavours, there is likely to be a deficit for the financial year ended June 2008 in the order of $700,000.ï¿½
As I have indicated previously, over the past five years the Bar Council has not routinely adjusted the practising certificate fees to keep pace with inflation or to accommodate the additional cost of the Professional Standards levy. Much as we would like to do so, it has not been possible to maintain these artificially low rates.
The Bar Council, in adopting the budget for 2008-2009, was strongly of the view that the Association could not continue operating a budget deficit.ï¿½ We could no longer not pass on the CPI increases and the cost of the Professional Standards levy. We had no choice but to increase the practising certificate fees.ï¿½ The increases make up for the increases that were not passed on in recent years.ï¿½ The Council is of course aware that the increases will not be welcome.ï¿½ Yet there was no responsible alternative.
Resignation of Justin Gleeson SC as Treasurer
At an extraordinary meeting of the Bar Council held on Friday 18 April to elect a new Treasurer, Alexander Street SC was elected to that position.ï¿½ He replaces Justin Gleeson SC, who resigned from the position of Treasurer and as a Bar Councillor on 11 April. Although it is not appropriate to go into detail, any suggestion that the Bar Councilâs meeting the previous day was conducted inappropriately is rejected.ï¿½ In accordance with a policy adopted by the Bar Council at the end of last year, that Council meeting had been called to consider solely professional conduct matters.ï¿½ A further meeting of the Council at which all other matters were open for discussion was scheduled for today.ï¿½ Due to the memorial service for the late Justice Santow this afternoon, that meeting has had to be postponed to next Thursday.
Proposed changes to the New South Wales Barristersâ Rules
The extended consultation period on the proposed amendments to the Rules expired on Monday 14 April. On 9 April I established a committee of the Council consisting of the President, the Senior Vice-President, Peter Garling SC, Phillip Boulten SC and Nye Perram SC to consider all written submissions and the comments of those who spoke at the general meeting held on 7 April.ï¿½ The Committee is reviewing the amendments in the light of all the submissions and comments and will then report to the Council.ï¿½ The Committeeâs recommendations, all the written submissions and the minutes of the general meeting will be placed before the Council which will then debate the issue.ï¿½ The question will be on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting of the Council on 1 May.
Anna Katzmann SC
23 April 2008