Uniform Law - Legal Practice, Legal Profession Conduct & Professional Development
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.