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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION STATEMENT

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1992 (WA)

The Legal Practice Board of Western Australia 
Freedom of Information Statement
 
This Information Statement is prepared and published pursuant to the requirements of Part 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) (FOI Act) and relates to the Legal Practice Board (Board).
 
Board’s mission
 
To be an effective, efficient, and innovative regulator of legal services in Western Australia
 
Legislation administered

The Board is established under the Legal Profession Act 2008 and administers legislation, including but not limited to:
  • Legal Profession Act 2008
  • Legal Profession Regulations 2009
  • Legal Profession Rules 2009
  • Legal Profession (Admission) Rules 2009
  • Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010
Board structure and functions
 
The Board consist of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, all self-nominated Queen’s Counsel and Senior Counsel whose principal place of practice is in Western Australia and twelve elected members from the profession.
 
The Executive Director, Secretary, Law Complaints Officer and all other officers and employees of the Board are engaged by the Board and their engagement may be subject to parts of the Public Sector Management Act 1994.
 
The Board’s functions are to advance the administration of justice and protect the public by regulating the competence and behaviour of legal practitioners in Western Australia and enabling the effective operation of the Board and its committees.
 
The Legal Profession Complaints Committee (LPCC), a committee of the Board which deals with professional complaints and discipline, exercises its statutory functions independently of the Board. The LPCC enquires into complaints relating to professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct by legal practitioners and also investigates such matters of its own volition.  
 
The Board provides the LPCC with such services and facilities as are reasonably necessary to enable the LPCC to perform its functions, and operates with four other principal committees:
  • Admissions and Registration.
  • Professional Affairs.
  • Management.
  • Professional Development.
Details of functions, including decision-making functions, affecting the public
 
The functions of the Board affect persons and legal practitioners involved in the provision of legal services and other related purposes.
 
The key functions and decision making functions of the Board include, but are not limited to: 
  • Reservation of legal work (including the prohibition on unqualified legal practice);
  • Admission of local, interstate and foreign lawyers;
  • Issuing and renewal of practising certificates;
  • Assessing fitness to practice;
  • Monitoring of continuing professional development (CPD) obligations;
  • Assessment of applicants for Quality Assured CPD provision;
  • Co-ordination of inter-jurisdictional regulatory matters;
  • Monitoring of legal practice structures, including incorporated legal practices and multi-disciplinary partnerships;
  • Monitoring of trust accounts;
  • The conduct of the complaints and disciplinary process through LPCC; and
  • Compliance with relevant public service, government and statutory obligations.
Many of the powers and functions of the Board are delegated to the established committees, the Executive Director, and the Deputy Executive Director. The Secretary has separate statutory powers and powers authorised by the Board. The Law Complaints Officer has separate statutory powers and powers delegated by the LPCC. 
 
The Board’s Officers and Employees carry out the day-to-day operations of the Board. Officers and Employees will also conciliate complaints and enquiries where appropriate, and manage disciplinary proceedings before the State Administrative Tribunal and the Supreme Court.
 
The work of the Board’s Officers and Employees includes, but is not limited to:
  • Executive and legal support of the Board and Committees;
  • Maintenance of the practitioner register (a record of all practitioners admitted to practice in Western Australia) plus various other records pertaining to legal practitioners in this State;
  • Maintenance of a disciplinary register;
  • Processing of admission and registration applications;
  • Issue and renewal of annual practising certificates and the administration of other practitioner compliance matters;
  • Management of continuing professional development requirements;
  • Management of practice management requirements;
  • Regulation and investigation of trust accounts;
  • Conducting the Board's annual election; and
  • Management of the Board's human, technological, financial and physical resources.
Public participation in the formulation of policy and performance of Board’s functions
 
No arrangements exist to enable members of the public to participate in the formulation of the Board’s policy or in the performance of its functions, other than by virtue of the fact that representatives of the community are members of the LPCC, being appointed by the Attorney General.
 
Documents held by the Board
 
The types of documents usually held by the Board comprise the following:
 
 (a)  Files relating to the registration of articles for articled clerks;
 (b) 

 
Files containing documents, correspondence and memoranda relating to the admission of legal practitioners, the issue and regulation of practising certificates, and legal practice;
 (c) 
 
Enquiries from overseas and interstate legal practitioners, and persons, relating to admission in Western Australia;
 (d) 

 
Files relating to the investigation or prosecution, or both, of offences under the Legal Profession Act 2008, for example unqualified and prohibited legal practice;
 (e)  Files relation to actions in which the Board is a party;
 (f) 
 
Documents relating to meetings of the Board, including agendas, minutes, memoranda and the like;
 (g) 

 
Documents relating to the management of the Board’s assets and facilities, including documents relating to Officers and Employees, premises, information technology, and so on; and
 (h) 


 
Notes dealing with the Board’s procedures relating to an application for admission, an application for and issue of a practising certificate, an application relating to continuing professional development matters and the audit of a practitioner’s trust account for an external auditor.
 
The notes referred to in paragraph (h) above are accessible on the Board’s website found at the link here. Copies of the notes referred to in paragraph (h) may also be made available to any person who calls at the office of the Board, or who otherwise contacts the Board with an enquiry concerning the functions of the Board.
 
Otherwise there is no other law or practice under which any of the documents referred to above can be purchased.
 
The operation of FOI in the Board
 
The FOI Act creates a general right of access to documents held by all state and local government agencies. It is the aim of the Board to make information available promptly, for the least possible cost, and wherever possible documents will be provided outside the Freedom of Information process. Any prospective applicant is encouraged to contact the Board regarding the information they seek before lodging an FOI application.
 
The Board has no procedures for amending personal information in its documents pursuant to Part 3 of the FOI Act. Any application for an amendment is to be dealt with in accordance with Part 3 of the FOI Act.
 
The Board has no internal manual as defined in section 95 of the FOI Act. None of its functions affect or are likely to affect rights, privileges or other benefits or obligations, penalties or other detriments to which members of the public are or may become entitled, eligible, liable or subject.
 
Freedom of Information Applications
 
Access applications have to – 
 
 (a)  be in writing;
 (b)  give enough information so that the documents requested can be identified;
 (c)  give an Australian address to which notices can be sent; and
 (d)  be lodged at the Board with any application fee payable
 
An initial enquiry for access to documents under the FOI Act should be made to the Freedom of Information Coordinator at Level 6, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth, who is the Officer at the Board who can deal with that enquiry, and who has been generally directed to coordinate an FOI application. An initial enquiry may be made by telephone on (08) 6211 3600 or by email to general@lpbwa.com
 
An access application under the FOI Act may be made to the Board in person at Level 6, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth or by letter to PO Box 5270, St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6821.
 
Applications will be acknowledged in writing and you will be notified of the decision within 45 calendar days.
 
Freedom of Information Charges 
 
A scale of fees and charges are set out in the FOI Regulations. 
 
Apart from the application fee for non-personal information (information that is not personal information about the applicant) all charges are discretionary.
 
The fees and charges are as follows.
 
  (a)  Personal information about the applicant No fee and no charges
  (b)  Application fee (for non-personal information) $30.00
  (c)
 
Charge for time dealing with the
application (per hour, or pro rata)
$30.00
  (d)
 
Access time supervised by Officers and
Employees (per hour, or pro rata)
$30.00
  (e)
 
Photocopying Officers and Employees
time (per hour, or pro rata)
$30.00
  (f)  Per photocopy $0.20
  (g) 
 
Transcribing from tape, film or
computer (per hour, or pro rata)
$30.00
  (h)  Duplicating a tape, film or computer information Actual Cost
  (i)  Delivery, packaging and postage Actual Cost
 
An estimate of charges will be provided if the cost is expected to exceed $25.00. For impecunious applicants or those issued with prescribed pensioner concession cards, any charges payable are reduced by 25%.
 
Deposits
 
 (a)
 
An advance deposit may be required in respect of the
Estimated charges
25%
 (b)
 
Further advance deposit may be required to meet the
charges for dealing with the application
75%
 
Access Arrangements
 
Access to documents can be granted by way of inspection, a copy of a document, a copy of an audio or video tape, a computer disk, a transcript of a recorded, shorthand or encoded document from which words can be reproduced.
 
Notice of Decision
 
As soon as possible, but in any case within 45 days, an applicant will be provided with a notice of decision which will include the following details:
 
 (a)  the date which the decision was made;
 (b)  the name and the designation of the officer who made the decision;
 (c) 
 
if the document is an exempt document the reasons for classifying the matter exempt; or the fact that access is given to an edited document; and
 (d) 
 
information on the right to review and the procedures to be followed to exercise those rights.
 
Refusal of Access
 
An applicant who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Board is entitled to ask for an internal review by the Board. An application for an internal review should be made in writing within 30 days of receiving the notice of decision.
 
An applicant will be notified of the outcome of an internal review within 15 days.
 
If an applicant disagrees with the internal review, the applicant can apply to the Information Commissioner for an external review. The external review application should be made within 60 calendar days after being given the agency’s written notice of the internal review decision. (Note: if you are requesting external review as a third party or following an application for amendment of personal information, you must lodge your external review application within 30 calendar days after being given written notice of the internal review decision.)
 
1 July 2021