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LCA Dinner

LAW SOCIETY CPD program proudly sponsored by legalsuper

Tue 30 Jun 2015 | 01:00PM
Freedom of Information – Identifying and Negotiating the Hurdles

Mon 27 Jul 2015 | 01:00PM
Trial Advocacy: Cross-Examination of Witnesses

Thu 30 Jul 2015 | 01:00PM
Panel Discussion on Domestic Violence

Fri 07 Aug 2015 | 06:00PM
2015 Practical Advocacy Workshop

Latest News
Law Society Northern Territory supports Change the Record Campaign
05 June 2015

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) is proud to support the “Change the Record” campaign (Campaign), an initiative of the National Justice Coalition aimed to end the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system.
Society President Tass Liveris said, “the Northern Territory has the highest rate of indigenous imprisonment in the country and indigenous people are significantly over-represented in the wider justice system. The statistics are alarming and identify a clear need for urgent action.”.
The Campaign is calling for governments at all levels to address the root causes of violence and imprisonment within the indigenous community by working in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities, services and their representatives. The Campaign lists 12 evidence-based and cost-effective solutions that invest in early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies.
“The Campaign outlines a new, strategic approach to stem the constantly rising imprisonment rates and incidences of violence and domestic violence, curtail re-offending rates and build stronger communities. By working together to invest in holistic strategies, we can help change this cycle of disadvantage” Mr Liveris said.
Visit https://changetherecord.org.au/ for more information.

Identification of Youth Offenders
05 June 2015

Letter dated 4 June 2015 to the Attorney-General, the Hon John Elferick MLA

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) refers to our letter to you dated 18 September 2014 calling on you to introduce urgent amendments to the Youth Justice Act (Act) to prevent the publication of information identifying youth who come in contact with the justice system.

Recently several news outlets ran, over several days, photographs and named two youths who had escaped and then returned to the corrections facility. The clear public interest in rehabilitating and reintegrating juveniles back into the community must be balanced against the public interest in open justice and public safety and as such reasonable exceptions ought to remain.

The Society reiterates its concern that as the Minister for Children and Families, permitting the publication of youth identities’ does not fit within the well-established principle that the best interest of the child is to be at the forefront of decision making.

It is clear that publicly identifying youth offenders is not in the interests of Territorians. The high costs of incarceration and rehabilitation is well documented. Anything that can be done to bring an end to incarceration, ensure young offenders become functioning, contributing members of society must be embraced.

The evidence is clear that it stigmatises youths and has a negative impact on their rehabilitation prospects and potentially leading to increased offending[1]. As the behaviour of the youths demonstrate they already strongly self-identify with criminal or deviant behaviours, reinforced by the media coverage. Accounting for the long term nature of digital media and in a small jurisdiction such as the Northern Territory these effects are compounded. It is clear that their actions in escaping were impulsive, and in returning they sought attention for their actions, which they achieved. There is no deterrent effect.

The Society is concerned that whilst the media hyperbole creates a level of notoriety for the youth, and shame for their custodians, little consideration is given to the impact of this coverage on the victims of their crimes.

The Society thus calls upon you to enact an urgent amendment to the Act so that apart from exceptional circumstances; it prevents the identification of youth offenders in the Northern Territory.

The Society would be happy to be consulted on any draft amendments.

[1] Johnston A., ‘The Privacy Commissioner’s Report on Child Offenders and Privacy’, Position Paper, 23 July 2002, p 2, quoted in Submission 16, Shopfront Youth Legal Centre, p 7

Supreme Court Listings - 2016
23 April 2015

Issues Paper – Development of a Central Bond Holding Scheme
20 April 2015

Letter to Director Legal Policy, Department of Attorney-General and Justice

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) thanks you for the opportunity to provide input on the Issues Paper – Development of a Central Bond Holding Scheme in the Northern Territory (the Scheme). The Society applauds measures that will address areas of unmet legal need.

The Society supports the concept of the development of an independent body to hold residential tenancy bonds. The Society is keen to see that the Department of Housings’ Accountable Officer’s Trust Account, which holds funds on behalf of public housing tenants, is also subject to the Scheme.

The Society is particularly interested in exploring options for the investment and distribution of interest earned from the funds paid into the Scheme. As noted in the Issues Paper, revenue raised on the interest would be used to educate the public about the Residential Tenancies Act and the Scheme and to cover costs associated with an increase in claims. The Society notes that earnings from investments of bonds in Queensland have been provided to the Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service to provide information, advice and advocacy to tenants, something which is very much needed in relation for tenants in remote areas of the Northern Territory. Given the significant role of Government tenancy agreements the Society is keen to see education and information needs met by independent advisers.

Supreme Court of the Northern Territory Practice Direction 1 of 2015
16 April 2015

Letter sent to Master Luppino Supreme Court of the Northern Territory

Supreme Court of the Northern Territory Practice Direction 1 of 2015

I refer to the correspondence between the Master’s Chambers, Dylan Walters and I on 6 and 7 January 2015 concerning Supreme Court Practice Direction 1 of 2015 dated 2 January 2015 (“PD1/15”).

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) has been contacted by some of its members who are concerned by the reduction in the rate per unit of a solicitor from $26.00 to $25.00 by PD1/15. The issue was considered by the Society’s Legal Practice Committee on 10 February 2015. On the basis of these submissions the Society requests the Master to reconsider the recommendation he made to the Chief Justice[1] and that consideration be given to reissuing PD1/15:

1.  Paragraph 4 of Part 1 of the Appendix to Order 63 of the Supreme Court Rules (“Paragraph 4”) requires the Chief Justice to declare the rate per unit of a solicitor and a clerk by practice direction from time to time after considering the recommendation of the Master.

Paragraph 4 also requires the Master to calculate and recommend any adjustment to the solicitor and clerk rate for each year on the basis of 37% the rate of the Consumer Price Index and 50% the rate of Average Weekly Earnings (“AWE”).  

 2.  As such, both the language of Paragraph 4 and the deliberate gap of 13% left in the formula to be applied provide discretion to the Master and the Chief Justice in respectively recommending and declaring the value of a rate per unit.

 3.  In the case of PD1/15, the letter from the Department of Treasury and Finance to the Master dated 24 November 2014 (which the Master’s Chambers has kindly supplied us with) notes that in 2014 the value of a solicitor’s rate was calculated to be $25.50. In 2015 the value was calculated to be $25.47 i.e. a decrease of $0.03.

 4.  The discretionary consideration and declaration of the rate per unit ought take into account the principle of de minimis non curat lex, where in this case a minor statistical variation of $0.03 should not be allowed to give rise to a reduction of $10.00 per hour that a solicitor can charge by reference to Paragraph 4. To do so would produce an anomalous outcome.

 5  .Many Territory practitioners, particularly sole practitioners and small and medium sized practices provide key access to legal services to members of the community by reference to the rate per unit declared under Paragraph 4. As such, a reduction of the rate has a significant impact on the ability of those practices to continue to deliver legal services to clients, many of whom are amongst some of the most needy and disadvantaged in the community.

 6.  In addition to this, sole practitioners and small to medium sized practices are under existing financial pressures which make them unable to absorb a further reduction in their earning capacity. The causes of these pressures include that Legal Aid rates have not increased for several years, that funding to legal aid bodies is being eroded and there are additional regulatory expenses such as in continuing professional development. These are the sorts of factors that the discretion built in to Paragraph 4 should take into account.

 7.  In circumstances where the reduction of the rate per unit has been brought about by a 2.2% decrease in the value of AWE it is also noted that awards and enterprise bargaining agreements are not designed to allow wages to decrease as a general rule. Although it is not expressly stated in Paragraph 4, the same general rule should apply to the calculation of the rates per unit.

 8.  If the value of AWE has decreased it would also be anomalous that a corresponding reduction in the solicitor’s rate per unit would have the effect of allowing clients to recover less of their fees incurred in the event of successful litigation than they would otherwise be permitted to.

 9.  The Society notes that the decrease in the value of AWE has not interfered with the value of the rate per unit for a clerk in PD1/15, which remains $14.00 as it was in 2014. A consistent application of the decrease in AWE favours leaving the value of a solicitor’s rate at $26.00 rather than reducing it.

 10.  Whilst the Society accepts that following the guide in Paragraph 4 there will be years where the rate will properly remain the same, 2015 is the first instance of deflation that the Society is aware of.

As the decrease in the rate is not mandated by Paragraph 4 but rather is a matter for the discretionary consideration of the Master and then the Chief Justice, we ask the Court to review PD1/15 with a view to issuing a new Practice Direction declaring the rate per unit for a solicitor at $26.00, with the clerk’s rate to remain unchanged at $14.00.

Thank you for the opportunity to make this submission. We look forward to hearing from you.

[1] The recommendation made under paragraph 4 of Part 1 of the Appendix to Order 63 of the Supreme Court Rules.

Amendments to Workers Compensation Legislation - Part 2
16 April 2015

Letter sent to Minister Styles on 30 March 2015


The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) notes the passing of the first round of Amendments to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, introduced into Parliament in February 2015.

The Society was requested to, and did, provide feedback on the Preliminary Report.

We note the second round of amendments is due to be introduced in May. The Society looks forward to providing comments on the draft Bill, particularly considering any unintended consequences.

We look forward to receiving a copy of the draft Bill at your earliest convenience.

Amendments to Workers Compensation Legislation
25 March 2015

Uniform Law - General Rules
20 January 2015

Letter to the Legal Services Council

The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the proposed Legal Profession Uniform General Rules.

Although the Society is generally supportive of the uniform law, the Society maintains concerns about the impact of the uniform law on a small jurisdiction such as the Northern Territory, particularly in the areas of additional regulation, costs and associated burdens and is not set to adopt it at this stage.

The Society notes the changes proposed in the General Rules in the particular areas of:

1.? Costs disclosure.

2.? Providing legal advice on managed investment schemes.

3.? Exceptions to the prohibition on unqualified legal practice and the definition of a ?qualified entity?.

4.? When professional indemnity insurance is required.

5. ?Costs assessment participation.

?The above areas are all very topical in the Northern Territory, for example:


1.? In the Northern Territory a law practice is not required to provide costs disclosure if the total legal costs in the matter (excluding disbursements) are not likely to exceed $1,500.00 (excluding GST).


The Society notes the proposed reduction of this sum to $750.00 under the General Rules but also the use of a short-form disclosure in matters where the estimate of costs is between $750.00 and $3,000.00.

2.? Professional indemnity insurance and the ongoing viability of a professional indemnity insurance scheme.


3.? Costs assessments. The Society notes that s.338 of the Legal Profession Act (NT) permits a costs assessment to proceed in the absence of a party; consistent with the proposal under the General Rules.

?4.? Further, the Legal profession Act (NT) makes provision for law practices providing legal services to managed investment schemes in general circumstances including where the practice has a prescribed interest in the scheme.

However, there are approximately only 550 legal practitioners in the Northern Territory and in these circumstances it cannot enjoy the benefits of economies of scale. The Society holds general and broad concerns about the implementation costs of the uniform law and the impact it would have by way of additional burdens on legal practitioners, particularly the small and medium sized legal practices, sole practitioners and legal practices outside of the greater Darwin area.

Notwithstanding the above issues, the Society would consider adopting guidelines consistent with the uniform law in any areas deemed appropriate. Any such guidelines could be adopted without legislative reform.

Law Society Northern Territory launches Indigenous Protocols for Lawyers – second edition
05 June 2015

The Law Society Northern Territory will launch its second edition of Indigenous Protocols for Lawyers (Protocols) at noon tomorrow at Chifley Alice Springs Resort.
The first edition of the Protocols was launched over 10 years ago and the Territory was the first jurisdiction to provide a guide to lawyers dealing with Indigenous people. Since their introduction the Protocols have been widely embraced and adapted throughout Australia.
Law Society CEO, Megan Lawton, said “the Protocols are intended to be an introduction to practice in the Northern Territory, providing essential guidance to lawyers to help them best advocate for Indigenous clients.
When first released the protocols marked the shift from expecting Indigenous peoples to learn rules or to change their behavior or learn the English language to expecting Legal Practitioners to have increased skill. Effective cross-cultural communication in a legal setting continues to be an important skill for lawyers.” Mrs. Lawton said.
The second edition of the Protocols continues to provide practical guidance and essential skills and tips. Importantly they outline what is expected of lawyers who represent Indigenous clients or witnesses” Ms Lawton said.
The Society acknowledges the work of the original author Ms Kristina Karlsson and in launching the second edition gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) and the input from the legal community.
CEO Megan Lawton said “we are proud to reflect that the Protocols have been in constant use since their original publication and the Society looks forward to the 2nd edition continuing to be a highly regarded resource for the legal profession in the Northern Territory and the wider community.”
The Protocols will be formally launched tomorrow during Law Week celebrations in Alice Springs with a Welcome to Country provided by Aboriginal elder Mrs. Betty Peace

Darwin Family Law Registry - Relocation
20 May 2015

From Wednesday 27 May 2015 the Darwin Family Law Registry will no longer be located at TCG Centre 80 Mitchell St Darwin.

The Registry will now be located at Ground Floor, Supreme Court Building, State Square, Darwin.

The conference room is on level 3.

Our dedicated Court is Court 8 level 4.

Phone, fax, email and post remain unchanged.

Behaviour of Correction Officers
23 April 2015

Letter to The Hon John Elferink MLA dated 21 April 2015

Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) has received a number of inquiries from members of the public seeking to complain about behaviour of corrections officers at the Darwin Correctional Precinct. 

The Society is keen to assist the public in appropriately directing their complaints, and to ensuring that the Department is best place to improve the quality of service provided. 

The ‘Complaints and Compliments’ processes observed by the Department of Health may be a useful model.  Further, the Department of Health also offers complaints via the Health & Community Services Complaints Commission and the Ombudsman. 

The Society would be grateful if you could clarify the available complaints processes.

International Treaty Against Use of Nuclear Weapons
16 April 2015

Letter to Chief Executive Officer Australian Red Cross dated 8 April 2015


Law Society Northern Territory (Society) is writing to acknowledge and express its support for your work building support for an international treaty that would make the use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The Society is pleased to contribute to the growing international momentum acknowledging that the use of nuclear weapons remains an immediate threat to global health.

Chemical, biological weapons, and landmines are illegal by convention because of their impact on civilian populations, yet the impact of nuclear weapons on the civilian population and its environment would be immeasurable. Nuclear weapons do not distinguish between race, religion or nationality and are the most barbaric weapon ever invented not outlawed by a specific international convention.

The Society supports the Australian Red Cross, in its continued call on the Australian government to pursue diplomatic negotiations leading to a binding legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank your organisation for its continuing advocacy in international humanitarian law, and in particular for keeping this critical issue on the global agenda.

Review of Academic Requirements for Admission - Legal Profession
16 April 2015

Letter sent to Legal Practitioners' Admissions Board dated 30 March 2015


Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) is pleased to provide input into the review of the academic requirements for admission to the legal profession in Australia (“Review”).

Comments on Section 6 of the Review

The Society maintains its position that the Priestley 11 should be the minimum academic study requirements for admission to the legal profession. The Priestley 11 continues to serve a relevant and appropriate purpose in setting a basic, required level of knowledge for all legal practitioners.

Removal of any elements of the Priestley 11 (such as civil procedure, evidence and ethics) is counterintuitive to the purpose and objects of admission to the legal profession. There is also a great risk that removing core elements will result in there being a failure to meet the community and consumer expectations that legal practitioners have acquired training in the fundamental principles of legal practice.

As such the Society also considers that statutory interpretation should be included as an additional prescribed academic requirement. Statutory interpretation is an integral component of legal practice and the skills gained in the training are broadly (if not specifically) applied across practice. Further, parliaments at all tiers of government are producing increasing volumes of new legislation and heavily modifying existing legislation. An ability to understand (as well as argue) statutory interpretation is therefore a key requirement of legal practice.

The Society has no other submission to make in terms of any additional areas of knowledge that ought to be added to the Priestley 11. However, in terms of the developing contextual changes that are referred to in the Review it is critical that a clear distinction is made between the requirements imposed by tertiary institutions for obtaining a Bachelor of Laws and the requirements for admission to the legal profession. The two concepts must be considered separately. It is also noted that demands for diversity and speciality in legal studies outside of the Priestley 11 are routinely met through means such as combined Bachelor of Laws/Jurisprudence courses, as well as Masters.

A “profession” is in part identified by special skill and learning. Entry to the legal profession also has a good fame and character requirement and members owe high and overriding duties of honesty to the courts, clients and other legal practitioners, lest public confidence in the administration of justice is eroded. This reflects the heavy responsibility legal practitioners have to themselves, each other and the public at large and demonstrates the need for the legal profession to ensure that those standards are not reduced.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into this important discussion.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.

A copy of this letter has been sent to the Law Council of Australia.

Lawrie v Lawler
01 April 2015


Lawrie -v- Lawler

Law Society Northern Territory ("Society") notes the interest arising from the decision of Lawrie -v- Lawler [2015] NTSC 19, delivered on 1 April 2015.

"Upholding the standards of the legal profession is a responsibility that the Law Society Northern Territory takes very seriously." said Society President, Mr Tass Liveris. "The Society is mindful that people are entitled to expect the highest standard of professionalism from legal practitioners and conduct that may call professional standards into question should be investigated."

Mr Liveris said: "The Society is here to promote the administration of justice and provide protection for consumers of legal services and the public generally." As the regulator of the legal profession in the Northern Territory, the Society is charged with investigating issues of professional conduct under the Legal Profession Act ("Act") and is not permitted to comment on specific cases.

Mr Liveris said: "It is important that people can have faith in the integrity of the legal profession and the rigorous processes undertaken by the Society in performing its regulatory function."

Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill
20 January 2015

Letter to the Attorney-General

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) is calling on you to provide bipartisan support to the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill (Bill) currently before Parliament.

The Northern Territory is the only Australian jurisdiction without vilification laws. The Territory has a diverse demographic and as such the Society considers that Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to the diverse cultural, religious and ethnic communities that make up our multi-cultural society.

Vilification in the Territory is alive and well and the Society considers it vital that there are strong and effective protections against racial and religious vilification. It is also important that the Territory is seen to have local solutions to local problems.

The Society strongly supports the intent behind this Bill especially given the public discourse surrounding terrorism at this time. The Society thinks that bipartisan support for the proposed amendments would send a clear message to the community that vilification is not acceptable in our community.

We would be happy to consult with you regarding the impact of the proposed Bill and to further articulate the reasons why the Society considers that vilification laws should be enacted in the Northern Territory.

Uniform Law - Legal Practice, Legal Profession Conduct & Professional Development
20 January 2015

Letter the Law Council of Australia

The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the draft proposed uniform rules of legal practice, legal professional conduct and continuing professional development.

The Society is generally supportive of the Law Council of Australia's submissions on the draft rules and the uniform law and supports the concept of a national profession. However, the Society maintains concerns about the impact of the uniform law on the Northern Territory and is not set to adopt the draft rules at this stage.

As a very small jurisdiction the Northern Territory is unable to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and the Society holds principal concerns about the additional burdens the uniform law would create in the areas of implementation and costs for the approximate 550 legal practitioners in the Northern Territory.

By way of example, a practitioner in the Northern Territory is currently required to have regard to three sources of professional responsibility to ascertain their codified regulatory obligations, whereas under the proposed uniform laws there would be an additional six items of codified regulatory obligations for practitioners to navigate.

The Society is concerned that the uniform law would bring an additional layer of complexity to regulation and that this would have particular impact on small and medium sized practices, sole practitioners and legal practices outside of the greater Darwin area.

Notwithstanding the above issues and that the Society remains doubtful about the costs and burdens of the uniform law in the Northern Territory, the Society would consider adopting guidelines consistent with the uniform law in appropriate areas. Any such guidelines could be adopted without legislative reform.

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