Grand-parented Principals Changing Status

A Principal of a law practice (Principal) who has been grand-parented, and hence does not have the PMC Condition imposed on their practising certificate, may in future cease to act in the capacity as a Principal for extended periods of time. If they then choose to re-enter practice as a Principal and do not lodge a Form 11 (Notice of Intention to Commence as a Principal) the Board may not become aware of that change of status until and/or unless the change was disclosed in the practitioner’s practising certificate (PC) renewal application.

In those circumstances, when the PDC becomes aware of the practitioner’s change of status and is of the view that the PMC Condition (in part or whole) should be imposed (due to prolonged absence from Principal status), the Board can:
  1. renew the certificate with the PMC Condition imposed: section 47(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act 2008 (the Act); or
  2. if during the certificate’s currency, seek consent from the practitioner to impose the PMC Condition (see section 47(3)(i) of the Act). In the absence of that consent, the Board will give notice to the practitioner of its intention to impose a condition under the provisions of sections 52 and 56 of the Act and provide opportunity for submissions from the practitioner.

In most such cases a varied form of the PMC Condition allowing the practitioner to continue in the role as Principal, but requiring completion of the PMC within a stipulated time, will be used. 

It should be noted that rule 6 of the Legal Profession Rules 2009 (the Rules) requires practitioners to notify the Board of a change of status, and rule 18C of the Rules requires practitioners to advise the Board, in the approved Form (Form 11), of their intention to become a Principal. These rules apply despite decisions made in regard to the PMC Condition status of practitioners.

The PDC takes a general position that if previous Principals have been out of Principal status for a period of 5 years or more then their individual suitability to not have the PMC Condition imposed will be considered; and these matters will be dealt with on an individual basis and as they arise, either by delegated authority by the Executive Director or Deputy Executive Director of the Board, or by referral to the PMC for consideration. 

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