Proctor : June 2018
3 PROCTOR | June 2018 Queensland’s solicitors are professional, empathetic, high- achieving and committed. We see this each and every day through your practice, your community work and pro bono service, your interactions with the courts and each other, and your commitment to ongoing professional development and career progression. It is timely, however, to remember that we work in a profession with varied areas of practice which lead to the requirement for varying levels of sympathy and care. In particular, I would like to focus on family law this month. As you are no doubt aware, family law is a very emotional and complex area of law with not only the emotions of adults often at the forefront, but those of children. We must always remember that when children are involved, we must take extra care to protect them where we can from the often harsh realities of legal proceedings. It is our responsibility as trusted solicitors to take into account the great obligations upon us and resist actions such as the passing on of inflammatory letters to the other side. Family law is not like personal litigation; it involves many more emotions and individual concerns. In many cases it involves the breaking down of a family unit, with the children vastly impacted in one or more ways. I commend the exceptional family lawyers that we have in Queensland, and I recognise the work you undertake and the personal touch you utilise in often difficult circumstances. Our advocacy team and QLS Family Law Committee are in the process of drafting our submission in response to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Review of the Family Law System’s issues paper, as part of the Law Council’s Family Law Section submission. The issues paper poses 47 questions about the family law system and we have taken on board a lot of feedback from our members. I look forward to updating you as this progresses. Our judiciary I have previously mentioned some new appointments to the bench in Queensland, but I would also like to mention the retirements from the bench of Judge Brian Harrison from Cairns and Judge Stuart Durward SC from Townsville in March, as well as Judge John Robertson from Brisbane in May. Deputy president Bill Potts and I have been able to thank them personally at their valedictory ceremonies, but I would like to once again congratulate them on their prestigious careers, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours. We have been fortunate that the Queensland Government have quickly filled the gap left by these key judicial members with the instalment of Judge Tracy Fantin to replace Judge Harrison and Judge John Coker to replace Judge Durward. The Federal Government has also now moved to effect the transfer of Judge Middleton from Newcastle to Townsville to fill the space left by Judge Coker of the Federal Circuit Court. I congratulate the new appointments and look forward to working with them in the future. Steer clear of claim farming I’m sure you are all aware that claim farming is unethical and very much frowned upon. We have been hearing reports of consultancy organisations offering potential clients gift cards when they complete a survey and authorise their details to be passed on. In light of this, it is timely to remind you that claim farming can take many forms, and it is imperative that we as solicitors steer clear of any practice such as this. Section 68 of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 relating to personal injuries states that “a person must not pay, or seek payment of, a fee for the soliciting or inducing of a potential claimant to make a claim”. 1 As solicitors, it is our role to remain ethical and above reproach. I encourage all practitioners to avoid utilising any type of ploy or outside organisation to find clients, regardless of how innocuous it may seem. We should always be conscious of protecting the reputation of the profession, especially in the methods of attracting new clients, either directly or through any third party. Rule 5 of the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules, which deals with dishonest and disreputable conduct, is also relevant here. We must always remember that compliance with the law and our paramount duty to the administration of justice is critical to our responsibilities to our clients. Actions such as claims farming diminish public confidence and compromise the profession’s integrity. Should you have any concerns about your current practices, please phone our QLS Ethics Centre and speak to one of our experienced advisers. Reminder – practising certificates One last reminder about renewing your practising certificates (PC) and QLS membership. Renewals closed on 31 May 2018, however, you can still renew your PC and membership until the end of this month. There will be a late fee for the renewal of the Certificate, but it is important that you not practise without a PC. Current certificates expire on 30 June. If, after 1 July 2018, you require a practising certificate but have not renewed, you will have to apply for a grant of PC which cannot be backdated. To practise without a PC is a breach of s24 the Legal Profession Act 2007. You can contact our records and member services team on 1300 367 757 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Ken Taylor Queensland Law Society president email@example.com Twitter: @QLSpresident LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ ken-taylor-qlspresident President’s report Queensland solicitors A committed and empathetic profession Notes 1 Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002, section 68.