Uniform Law terminology

Legal practitioners should familiarise themselves with the Legal Profession Uniform Law, Uniform Rules and administrative arrangements. There are some terminology changes that interstate legal practitioners should be aware of. The key terms are summarised below.

Admission or Admission to the Australian Legal Profession - s6(1)

In the Uniform Law these terms apply to a person admitted as a lawyer in a participating jurisdiction and to a person admitted in non-participating jurisdictions.

Australian Lawyer – s6(1)

An Australian lawyer is a person admitted to the Australian legal profession in any Australian jurisdiction.

Australian Legal Practitioner – s6(1)

An Australian legal practitioner is an Australian lawyer who holds a current Australian practising certificate.

Australian Practising Certificate – s6(1)

An Australian practising certificate is a practising certificate issued under the Uniform Law, as well as a practising certificate issued under the law of a non- participating jurisdiction. The Uniform Law itself does not use the expressions local practising certificate and interstate practising certificate.

Australian Registration Certificate – s6(1)

This is a registration certificate granted under the Uniform Law, or a registration certificate granted to a foreign lawyer, or a document acknowledging the registration of a foreign lawyer, under a law of a non-participating jurisdiction entitling the lawyer to practise foreign law.

Commercial or Government Client – s6(1), s170

This definition replaces “sophisticated client” and is relevant to the application of provisions of the Uniform Law relating to legal costs and consumer complaints.

Consumer Matter – s269

Subsection 269(1) provides that a 'consumer matter' is a complaint about a lawyer or law practice relating to the provision of legal services to the complainant by the lawyer or law practice and as the DLRA determines should be resolved by the exercise of functions relating to consumer matters.

Cost Dispute – s269(2)

Subsection 269(2) defines a 'costs dispute' as a consumer matter involving a dispute about legal costs payable on a solicitor-client basis, where the dispute is between a lawyer or law practice and a person who is charged with those legal costs or is liable to pay them (whether as a client of the lawyer or law practice or as a third party payer).

Designated Local Regulatory Authority – s6(1)

This is a general descriptor for the person or body exercising a power or function under the Uniform Law or Uniform Rules.

Engage in Legal Practice – s6(1)

This term includes to practise law or provide legal services, but  does not include engaging in policy work (which includes  developing and  commenting on legal policy).

Government Lawyer

A person who engages in legal practice only –

  1. As an officer or employee of a government authority; or
  2. As the holder of a statutory office of the Commonwealth or of a jurisdiction; or
  3. In another category specified in the Uniform Rules.

Government Legal Practitioner

A government lawyer who is an Australian legal practitioner.

Participating Jurisdiction - s6(1)

A reference to a participating jurisdiction is a reference to New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. Any other state or territory that joins the Uniform Law Scheme will also become a participating jurisdiction.

Non-Participating Jurisdiction - s6(1)

A reference to a non-participating jurisdiction is a reference to any state or territory that is not a participating jurisdiction.

Practising Certificate Categories Of Practice And Trust Money – s47

The Uniform Law does not prescribe different classes of practising certificates but instead differentiates practice entitlements in terms of the conditions that are attached to an Australian practising certificate. Thus, for example, what may currently be referred to as a Principal’s Practising Certificate is referred to under the Uniform Law as an Australian practising certificate to which is attached a condition that the holder is authorised to engage in legal practice as a principal of a law practice.

Unincorporated Legal Practice – s6(1)

An unincorporated legal practice is an alternative business structure that is a partnership or unincorporated body or group approved to provide legal services, but does not include a law firm, a community legal service or an incorporated legal practice. Multi-disciplinary partnerships are a form of unincorporated legal practice.