8 months ago

LSB April 2018_Web


THE LAW SOCIETY: WORKING FOR YOU Standing up for the profession ANNA FINIZIO, POLICY COORDINATOR Last year’s President Tony Rossi gives evidence at the Federal inquiry into the Centrelink “robo-debt” system As the voice of the legal profession in South Australia, the Society continues to expand its reach and influence for the benefit of the legal profession and the wider community. The Society’s voice is powerful and highly regarded by the Government, opposition parties, the courts and other bodies, who frequently seek the Society’s views in relation to policy and legislative matters. The Society seeks to actively influence policy and legislation in a number of ways including submissions, appearances before Parliamentary Inquiries and through the media. The Society’s submissions continue to play an important role in shaping legislation in South Australia. We are uniquely placed through our Special Interest Committees to consider and comment upon the practical application of proposed reforms and their potential impact on both the profession and the community. A submission of the Society carries considerable weight in the Parliament. This is evident by the frequency of references to the Society’s submissions during Parliamentary debate; in some cases, read out in their entirety into Hansard. The Society through its submissions and advocacy work, provides a mechanism for legislative scrutiny and Government accountability. Its views are highly valued by Members of Parliament. Increasingly in recent times, consultation concerning legislation that seeks to subvert fundamental principles of criminal justice, as well as legislation dealing with the most 22 THE BULLETIN April 2018 vulnerable members of our community, has been rushed and inadequate. The Society has mobilised quickly to express its concerns to Members of Parliament, who themselves often have had insufficient time to properly consider the proposed legislation. In 2017, the Society was instrumental in the defeat of the Statutes Amendment (Recidivist and Repeat Offenders) Bill 2017 (SA) in the Legislative Council. The Bill sought to extend the provisions of the Sentencing Act 1988 (SA) so that the Attorney General could apply for a serious repeat offender, including a youth offender, to be detained in prison beyond the completion of the offender’s head sentence. The Society strongly opposed the Bill, particularly its provisions relating to young offenders who are still in the early stages of development, and for whom rehabilitation should be the primary objective in sentencing. The Society also works closely with other stakeholders in its advocacy activities. Recently it formed an alliance with stakeholders such as the Australian Medical Association (SA Branch) and the South Australian Council of Social Service, in response to child protection reform. The alliance through its advocacy work, including a joint press conference and meetings with Members of Parliament, was successful in ensuring a number of amendments were made to improve the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA). The Society is regularly invited to appear before Parliamentary Inquiries. Special Interest Committees provide not only an opportunity for Members to network with peers in their practice area, but influence policy in a tangible and meaningful way. Recent appearances have been in relation to the Return to Work Scheme, the Administration of South Australian Prisons, the Review of the Lifetime Support Scheme and the Decriminalisation of Sex Work. In addition, the Society is often contacted directly by the Government and opposition parties to discuss and inform proposed legislation. As a Constituent Body of the Law Council of Australia, the Society ensures that the voice of the South Australian legal profession is heard and has a platform in respect to national matters, including Family Law, national security and human rights. The Society is proactive in its advocacy and lobbying in relation to access to justice, including Federal and State funding for Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres. We use platforms such as the recent State Election to lobby political parties and advocate for key issues including funding for the Courts and a new Courts building. The Society maintains an active voice in matters of importance to both the profession and the community, including Compulsory Third Party Insurance and the privatisation of the services of the Lands Titles Office. Underpinning the strength of the Society’s advocacy work are its Special Interest Committees. The advocacy work of the Society would not be possible without the hard work and expertise of the Members of our Committees, who are often called on to consider complex matters in short time frames. Committees form the heart of the advocacy work of the Society, and work closely with staff to inform submissions and media enquiries. Special Interest Committees provide not only an opportunity for Members to network with peers in their practice area, but influence policy in a tangible and meaningful way. B

THE LAW SOCIETY: WORKING FOR YOU Protecting practitioners against risk GEOFF THOMAS, DIRECTOR, LAW CLAIMS The Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (SA) (the Act) mandates that all practitioners in private practice in SA be insured for their professional liabilities. The Act further provides that the Society may, with the approval of the Attorney General, establish a Scheme to provide Professional Indemnity Insurance. The Society has established such a Scheme, known as the SA Legal Practitioners Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme (Scheme). That scheme provides cover in accordance with the Minimum Standards contained in the Uniform Law. The level of cover is $2 million inclusive of defence fees per claim. The Scheme is comprised of the Professional Indemnity Fund (PIF), which is a mutual fund maintained by the Society from part of the contributions paid by practitioners. That fund is primarily used to provide a deductable with respect to any claims payment, to the extent of meeting the first $400,000 of any claim. Beyond that, the Scheme is insured by various insurers, who are thus responsible to make any payments between the deductable and the limit of indemnity. The maintenance by the Society of the PIF has therefore been of great assistance to SA Practitioners over the years. It enables the Society in its annual negotiations with Underwriters to provide detailed data about Claims Statistics over a long period and demonstrate strong claims handling ability. This also provides a good bargaining position as to the terms of cover for the Scheme and as to the level of premiums charged by Underwriters. Consequently the Society has been able to maintain a stable level of contributions payable by practitioners for their professional indemnity insurance for many years, and they have been significantly lower than would be the case if this insurance had to be obtained via the commercial market. Law Claims administers the Scheme. Its primary role is therefore to manage claims made against practitioners. Law Claims takes a proactive approach to claims management, and endeavours to resolve meritorious claims at the earliest opportunity, but to strongly defend claims without merit. Law Claims has a small team of in-house solicitors for that purpose, but instructs a panel of external solicitors to represent practitioners where proceedings are issued. The Society also provides an extensive risk management programme with a view to assisting practitioners to minimise the incidence of claims against them. That programme has largely compromised education type sessions in practice areas where the statistics maintained by Law Claims show that there are particular claims prone risks or there are emerging risks. “Riskwatch” and “Risk Alert” articles are also prepared and published on a regular basis in order to keep the profession appraised of topical issues. The Society is currently investigating an expansion of the risk management programme and is currently investigating some of the programmes that have been developed in another Australian jurisdiction. This could include the provision to practitioners of materials in specific practice areas and visits by Risk Management staff and experts to Law Practices to assist in their office and file management procedures. B We Are Forensic Experts In • Engineering Analysis & Reconstruction • Traffi c Crashes & Road Safety • Workplace or Mining Incidents • Reporting & Experts Court Testimony Delta V Experts • Clarifi es the facts in a situation • Scientifi cally substantiates the evidence • Failure Analysis & Safety Solutions • Physical, Crash, Incident & Vehicle Dynamic Handling Testing DELTA V EXPERTS • Strengthens your communication • Diverse experience and expertise 03 9481 2200 9 Springbank Street, Tullamarine, 3043