The Legal Profession Uniform Law came into operation in NSW and Victoria  on 1 July 2015, creating a common legal services market across NSW and Victoria. The Uniform Law aims to harmonise regulatory obligations while retaining local performance of regulatory functions. It regulates the legal profession across the two jurisdictions, governing matters such as practising certificates, cost disclosure and billing arrangements, complaint handling processes and professional discipline issues and continuing professional development requirements.

The  Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 introduced the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) and these replaced the Legal Profession Act 2004 as well as the regulations and rules made under that Act. Learn more here.

Uniform Rules

The Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 came  into force on 1 July, along with the rest of the Uniform Law Scheme. The new Uniform Conduct Rules are based on the Australian Bar Association’s ‘Model Rules’, which had been adopted in NSW, in the current NSW Barristers Rules 2014. 

The legislation provides for categories of Uniform Rules, which contain much of the detail of the Uniform Law scheme, including the types of provisions found in regulations and rules made under the current Legal Profession legislation. The Australian Bar Association is responsible for developing Legal Profession Conduct Rules and Continuing Professional Development Rules for barristers.  

Fees in advance

The legislation that regulates barristers receiving fees in advance in direct access matters changed on 1 July 2015. Clause 106A of the Legal Profession Regulation 2005 was repealed on that date (along with the Legal Profession Act 2004). The new provision is clause 15 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015. Read more about fees in advance .

If you have received fees in advance – that is, as described in the legislation, money on account of legal costs for legal services in advance of the provision by the barrister of the legal services – then clause 15 (2) (h) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 requires you to appoint an External Examiner to carry out an examination of the account for the period 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2017. The clause also requires that a copy of the examination report, in a form approved by the Bar Council, is to be provided to the Bar Association no later than 7 June 2017.The approved form can be accessed  here. Completed examination reports can be forwarded by email to or sent to the Bar Association by post marked to the attention of Angela Huang, Legal Officer.

The obligations associated with receipt of fees in advance in direct access matters apply whenever the barrister receives money before the work paid for is completed. This includes, for example:

  1. Fees received in the days before an appearance, conference, or other work;
  2. Fees received at the commencement of an appearance, conference, or other work;
  3. Fees received in the course of a multi-day appearance, conference, or other work, to the extent that the fees are paid in full for the whole of the appearance, conference, or other work.

Trust money received in these circumstances should be deposited in the trust money account, and a receipt issued to the client, as soon as practicable after the money is received. A trust money account receipt template is available here and the accompanying instruction note is available here.

Costs and billing under the Uniform Law

The legal costs provisions in: Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015; and Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 (NSW) supersede the costs and billing provisions of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW), the Legal Profession Regulation 2005 (NSW) and existing precedents. 

Interstate practitioners

The Law Council of Australia has published a  fact sheet, which provides an overview of the arrangements that will apply to interstate practitioners when practising in New South Wales and Victoria from 1 July 2015, and discusses other aspects of the Uniform Law framework of relevance to interstate practitioners.

Register of delegations

The Council of the New South Wales Bar Association is the designated local regulatory authority for a range of functions under the Uniform Law. Those functions have been delegated. A register of the delegations is available  here  .