Northern Territory Explanatory Statements

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LEGAL PROFESSION AMENDMENT (COMPLAINTS AND DISCIPLINE) BILL 2008

3


D080581-PC ES Cab Sub Legal Profession Amendment Bill 2008 (173851R1)
7-5-08


2008

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE
NORTHERN TERRITORY

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Legal Profession Amendment (COMPLAINTS AND DISCIPLINE) Bill 2008
SERIAL NO. 147

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT


GENERAL OUTLINE

This Bill amends the Legal Profession Act (“the Act”) by:

providing that the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal must provide notice of its decisions to all of the parties to proceedings; providing that the Law Society has a right to appeal against decisions of the Disciplinary Tribunal;

providing that the only complainants who may appeal are those who may have appeared before the Tribunal;

providing for the appointment by the Chief Executive Officer (Department of Justice) of a Registrar for the Disciplinary Tribunal

providing that the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Tribunal may determine the constitution of the Tribunal when dealing with appeals from the decisions of the Law Society;

provides that the Chairperson of the Tribunal has the power to issue practice directions and rules on behalf of the Disciplinary Tribunal.



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1. Short Title.

This is a formal clause which provides for the citation of the Bill.
The Bill when passed may be cited as the Legal Profession Amendment (Complaints and Discipline) Act 2008.

Clause 2. Act amended

The Bill will amend the Legal Profession Act.

Clause 3. Amendment of section 530 (Notice of decision)

Section 530 of the Act has been amended so that the Disciplinary Tribunal must now provide notice of its decisions to both the “parties” to proceedings. In most cases the parties are the Australian legal practitioner the subject of the disciplinary action and the Law Society Northern Territory (the Law Society) being the disciplinary authority. Notice must also be given to any complainant who appeared at the hearing.

Clause 4. Amendment of section 533 (Appeal against Disciplinary Tribunal orders)

Section 533 of the Act provides complainants and the Australian legal practitioner or other person against whom an order is made, a right of appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Clause 4 amends section 533 so as to also give the Law Society a right of appeal to the Supreme Court against any Disciplinary Tribunal decision and to restrict the right of a complainant to complainants who appeared at the hearing.

For decisions made prior to the commencement of the amending legislation, any such appeal must be made within 28 days of the commencement of the amending legislation.


Clause 5. Amendment of section 674 (Constitution of Disciplinary Tribunal for hearings)

Section 674 of the Act provides for the chairperson to select between three and five members to constitute the Disciplinary Tribunal to hear and decide proceedings.

The selection of Tribunal members must take place as soon as practicable after a disciplinary action is started under Chapter 4 of the Act.

Clause 5 amends section 674(1) of the Act to provide for the constitution of the Tribunal to hear and decide proceedings for an appeal against Law Society decisions under section 506 of the Act, as well as for disciplinary applications.

Clause 6 Repeal of section 676A

This clause repeals section 676A of the Act.

Clause 7 New section 677A

Clause 7 inserts new section 677A.

New section 677A gives the Chairperson the power to issue practice directions and rules relating to the practice and procedure of the Disciplinary Tribunal. Currently, section 676A requires all 12 members of the Disciplinary Tribunal to agree before signing new rules governing the Tribunal’s practice and procedure. It is more practicable for the Chairperson to make rules and issue practice directions, after consulting with the other members of the Tribunal.

This clause also provides for a person to be appointed by the Chief Executive Officer of the agency administering the Act, to be the Registrar of the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Clause 8. Further amendments

This clause provides for minor grammatical amendments to the definition of “regulatory authority” in section 4 of the Act as set out in the Schedule to the Bill. There is no change to the substantive meaning of the definition.



 


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