The Legal Profession Uniform Law came into operation in NSW and Victoria on 1 July 2015, creating a common legal services market across NSW and Victoria. The Uniform Law aims to
The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 introduced the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) and these replaced the Legal Profession Act 2004 as well as the regulations and rules made under that Act. Learn more here.
The Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 came into force on 1 July, along with the rest of the Uniform Law Scheme. The new Uniform Conduct Rules are based on the Australian Bar Association’s ‘Model Rules’, which had been adopted in NSW, in the current NSW Barristers Rules 2014.
The legislation provides for categories of
- Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Barristers) Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Solicitors) Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015
- Legal Profession Uniform Legal Practice (Solicitors) Rules 2015
Fees in advance
The legislation that regulates barristers receiving fees in advance in direct access matters changed on 1 July 2015. Clause 106A of the Legal Profession Regulation 2005 was repealed on that date (along with the Legal Profession Act 2004). The new provision is clause 15 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015. Trust money is defined in the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (s.129). It includes money received by a barrister on account of legal costs in advance of providing the services. Read more about fees in advance.
Notification of the opening of a trust money account
Clause 15(2)(c) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 provides that within 14 days of opening a trust money account, a barrister must notify the Bar Association of the particulars of the trust money account. A notification form is available for download here.
Requirement to provide an external examination report
If you have received fees in advance – that is, as described in the legislation, money on account of legal costs for legal services in advance of the provision by the barrister of the legal services – then clause 15 (2) (h) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 requires you to appoint an External Examiner to carry out an examination of the account for the period 1 April to 31 March, and submit a copy of that examination report to the Bar Association not later than 7 June following the end of that period.
The approved external examination form can be accessed here. Completed examination reports can be forwarded by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to the Bar Association by post marked to the attention of Angela Huang, Senior Lawyer, Professional Conduct.
Obligations associated with the receipt of trust monies
The obligations associated with receipt of fees in advance in direct access matters apply whenever the barrister receives money before the work paid for is completed. This includes, for example:
- Fees received in the days before an appearance, conference, or other work;
- Fees received at the commencement of an appearance, conference, or other work;
- Fees received in the course of a multi-day appearance, conference, or other work, to the extent that the fees are paid in full for the whole of the appearance, conference, or other work.
Trust money received in these circumstances should be deposited in the trust money account, and a receipt issued to the client, as soon as practicable after the money is received.
If you have any further queries in relation to fees in advance, please contact Angela Huang, Senior Lawyer, Professional Conduct by email at email@example.com
Costs and billing under the Uniform Law
The legal costs provisions in: Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015; and Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 (NSW) supersede the costs and billing provisions of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW), the Legal Profession Regulation 2005 (NSW) and existing precedents.
- The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 sets out, among other things, new requirements for the receiving or holding of money by or on behalf of barristers. For more information, see the Billing Checklist for Barristers.
- Information on costs, including precedents that were in effect prior to the commencement of the Uniform Law, can be obtained from the Costs and Billing page of this website.
- “Legal Costs under the Uniform Law”: a paper presented by Mark Brabazon SC at a Bar Association CPD seminar on 17 June 2015.
The Law Council of Australia has published a
fact sheet, which provides an overview of the arrangements that will apply to interstate practitioners when
Register of delegations
The Council of the New South Wales Bar Association is the designated local regulatory authority for a range of functions under the Uniform Law. Those functions have been delegated. A register of the delegations is available here .