The president of the Law Council of Australia, Ms Catherine Gale,ï¿½has released a statementï¿½expressingï¿½disappointmentï¿½atï¿½the decision by the Queensland Government that it will not sign up to the National Legal Profession Reforms. In her statement, Ms Gale said:
â¢ï¿½I have stated publicly before that nothing important is ever easy and I am often reminded that the Corporations Law reforms also had a very difficult beginning but are now well accepted as a necessary and important reform.
â¢ï¿½Through the reform process it has always been the Law Councilâs aim to represent the interests of the profession to ensure that it achieved an outcome where all lawyers operate under the same rules and professional standards; all consumers have access to the same consumer protections; the market for legal services is open to all practitioners regardless of jurisdiction; the regulatory system supports participation in the international legal services market; and law societies and bar associations continue to play key roles in the regulatory system.
â¢ï¿½It is in the interests of all lawyers and consumers to have greater uniformity regarding the regulation of the legal profession in Australia.
â¢ï¿½The Queensland attorney-general has said that one of the reasons for his decision is the Newman government's belief in competitive federalism. The proposed national scheme promotes competitive federalism by establishing uniform legislation, rules and guidelines to ensure that legal practitioners and the provision of legal services is uniformly regulated across each state and territory.
â¢ï¿½The reforms will establish a level regulatory playing field against which all legal practitioners and law practices can compete domestically and (if they wish) internationally, according to the quality and price of their legal services offerings, rather than be constrained or prevented from competing by regulatory inconsistencies and barriers between states and territories, or by the high costs that flow from complex legislation and the multiple regulatory bodies and functions needed to support that complexity.
â¢ï¿½Regulatory differences between states and territories that inhibit seamless legal practice impact not only on the established national law firms, they also have an impact on medium and specialist law firms that aspire to grow and establish a national presence, as well as the many smaller law firms that operate in border regions, especially in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
â¢ï¿½The Law Council has supported and will continue to support the uniform regulation of the Australian legal profession and will continue to work in collaboration with its constituent bodies to ensure these important reforms are realised and a consistent, simplified approach to legal profession regulation is achieved.
3 October 2012