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Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:34

Letter to the Attorney-General

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) is calling on you to provide bipartisan support to the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill (Bill) currently before Parliament.

The Northern Territory is the only Australian jurisdiction without vilification laws. The Territory has a diverse demographic and as such the Society considers that Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to the diverse cultural, religious and ethnic communities that make up our multi-cultural society.

Vilification in the Territory is alive and well and the Society considers it vital that there are strong and effective protections against racial and religious vilification. It is also important that the Territory is seen to have local solutions to local problems.

The Society strongly supports the intent behind this Bill especially given the public discourse surrounding terrorism at this time. The Society thinks that bipartisan support for the proposed amendments would send a clear message to the community that vilification is not acceptable in our community.

We would be happy to consult with you regarding the impact of the proposed Bill and to further articulate the reasons why the Society considers that vilification laws should be enacted in the Northern Territory.

 
Uniform Law – General Rules
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:01

Letter to the Legal Services Council


The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the proposed Legal Profession Uniform General Rules.

Although the Society is generally supportive of the uniform law, the Society maintains concerns about the impact of the uniform law on a small jurisdiction such as the Northern Territory, particularly in the areas of additional regulation, costs and associated burdens and is not set to adopt it at this stage.

The Society notes the changes proposed in the General Rules in the particular areas of:

1.  Costs disclosure.

2.  Providing legal advice on managed investment schemes.

3.  Exceptions to the prohibition on unqualified legal practice and the definition of a “qualified entity”.

4.  When professional indemnity insurance is required.

5.  Costs assessment participation.

 The above areas are all very topical in the Northern Territory, for example:

 

1.  In the Northern Territory a law practice is not required to provide costs disclosure if the total legal costs in the matter (excluding disbursements) are not likely to exceed $1,500.00 (excluding GST).

 

The Society notes the proposed reduction of this sum to $750.00 under the General Rules but also the use of a short-form disclosure in matters where the estimate of costs is between $750.00 and $3,000.00.

2.  Professional indemnity insurance and the ongoing viability of a professional indemnity insurance scheme.

 

3.  Costs assessments. The Society notes that s.338 of the Legal Profession Act (NT) permits a costs assessment to proceed in the absence of a party; consistent with the proposal under the General Rules.

 4.  Further, the Legal profession Act (NT) makes provision for law practices providing legal services to managed investment schemes in general circumstances including where the practice has a prescribed interest in the scheme.

However, there are approximately only 550 legal practitioners in the Northern Territory and in these circumstances it cannot enjoy the benefits of economies of scale. The Society holds general and broad concerns about the implementation costs of the uniform law and the impact it would have by way of additional burdens on legal practitioners, particularly the small and medium sized legal practices, sole practitioners and legal practices outside of the greater Darwin area.

Notwithstanding the above issues, the Society would consider adopting guidelines consistent with the uniform law in any areas deemed appropriate. Any such guidelines could be adopted without legislative reform.

 
Uniform Law – Legal Practice, Legal Profession Conduct & Professional Development
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:59

Letter the Law Council of Australia


The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the draft proposed uniform rules of legal practice, legal professional conduct and continuing professional development.

The Society is generally supportive of the Law Council of Australia’s submissions on the draft rules and the uniform law and supports the concept of a national profession. However, the Society maintains concerns about the impact of the uniform law on the Northern Territory and is not set to adopt the draft rules at this stage.

As a very small jurisdiction the Northern Territory is unable to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and the Society holds principal concerns about the additional burdens the uniform law would create in the areas of implementation and costs for the approximate 550 legal practitioners in the Northern Territory.

By way of example, a practitioner in the Northern Territory is currently required to have regard to three sources of professional responsibility to ascertain their codified regulatory obligations, whereas under the proposed uniform laws there would be an additional six items of codified regulatory obligations for practitioners to navigate.

The Society is concerned that the uniform law would bring an additional layer of complexity to regulation and that this would have particular impact on small and medium sized practices, sole practitioners and legal practices outside of the greater Darwin area.

Notwithstanding the above issues and that the Society remains doubtful about the costs and burdens of the uniform law in the Northern Territory, the Society would consider adopting guidelines consistent with the uniform law in appropriate areas. Any such guidelines could be adopted without legislative reform.

 
Consultation on Uniform Law – Proposed Rules for Barristers
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:56

Letter to the NSW Bar Association

The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the draft proposed rules for barristers about legal professional conduct and continuing professional development.

Under the Legal Profession Act (NT) the Society is the regulator for all legal practitioners in the Northern Territory. Of the approximately 550 legal practitioners only a very small minority practise as barristers under barrister practising certificates issued by the Society. As the regulator of the legal profession in the Northern Territory the Society considers the current legislative arrangement to be workable and viable in financial and other terms.

Whilst the Society supports the concept of a national profession, it is concerned about the increased regulation and cost. A small jurisdiction like the Northern Territory cannot enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and where the number of barristers is extremely limited and unlikely to significantly increase in the short or medium term the impact of the national professional will inevitably create significant implementation and costs issues in all areas, including continuing professional development. 

The Society recommends that as far as possible the proposed rules relating to continuing professional development should accord with those applying to solicitors.

 
The Society has moved...
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 16:54

The Society has relocated to the following address:

Level 3,
9 Cavenagh Street,
Darwin NT 0800.

The telephone, facsimile, email and postal address remain unchanged. 

 
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Office Location:
Level 3, 9 Cavenagh Street
Darwin NT 0800 View map

Mailing Address:
GPO Box 2388
Darwin NT 0801

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Phone: 08 8981 5104
Fax: 08 8941 1623
Email: lawsoc@lawsocietynt.asn.au

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