Courier-Mail today: Legal Services Commission article

15 November 2013

Dear John,

Yesterday we responded to a media inquiry from The Courier-Mail regarding statements in the Legal Services Commission’s annual report. Despite the tight timeframes – 2.5 hours to review an 86 page annual report – we provided information which was requested and so were disappointed with today’s outcome.

We have sent an email to The Courier-Mail correcting a number of statements, namely:

It is somewhat disingenuous to highlight “The Commission received complaints about 413 solicitors” without any reference to this being a small proportion of the 9920 solicitors who hold Queensland practising certificates.

The commission’s annual report states on page 81 that 4.16% of solicitors have had complaints made about them. This is the total percentage of all complaints and does not justify the Legal Services Commission’s statement that one issue is “systemic” across the profession.

It does not reflect the practices of the vast number of solicitors and it should be considered in a broader context of the regulatory environment. Queensland solicitors are one of the heaviest regulated professions within Australia. We are governed by the 581-page Queensland Legal Profession Act 2007 and the 1509-page Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

The Society takes issues of ethics and practice seriously. Solicitors have access to a range of support services and resources to manage ethical issues – a service we are continually evolving and the success of which is evidenced in the reduction in costs complaints.

This includes:
free advice via our Ethics Centre – this service received 2757 practitioner inquiries last year (stated on page 69 of the LSC’s annual report)
trust account compliance reviews
ethics-based professional development training
the launch of a revised best practice costs guide in 2014
the 2014 release of Queensland Law Society’s commentary to the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules with practical information and comment to help solicitors resolve ethical dilemmas.

QLS conducts investigations referred to it by the Legal Services Commission and makes recommendations to the Commissioner. In the past, we have recommended prosecution of certain practitioners but the decision to prosecute is solely that of the Commissioner.

I welcome your thoughts on the issues raised.

Annette Bradfield
Queensland Law Society

07 3842 5943