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Thursday, 17 March 1966

Mr. SNEDDEN(Bruce- Attorney-

General) [11.45].- I moveThat the Bill be now read a second time. This is a Bill mainly about legal practitioners. It lays down who may practise as barristers or solicitors in the High Court and other federal courts, and who may practise in courts of the Territories, and it deals with subsidiary matters such as discipline of persons so practising. This is not, of course, a new topic. Section 49 of the Judiciary Act has dealt with it, in part at least, since 1903. However, section 49 is not suited to modern developments, and the Bill takes the course of deleting the section and substituting a new set of provisions.

Put very shortly, the new provisions recognise Territory practice in a way that the earlier law was not concerned to do by giving Territory practitioners as well as State practitioners a right to practise in the High Court and other federal courts. The new provisions also say who are to be Territory practitioners, subject to any Territory laws that may make other provision. The Bill leaves it open for Territory laws to provide for local admission as a condition precedent to Territory practice. Any such Territory laws that are made will not affect the right that Territory practitioners will have under this Bill to practise in federal courts.

Let me take, first, the position as to Territory practice. A person who is enrolled as a barrister or solicitor in a State or Territory may practise as a barrister and solicitor in any Territory. This provision can be replaced at any time by a Territory law providing for local admission and restricting practice in that Territory to persons locally admitted. This means that the Territories will be able to control legal practice within their boundaries as fully as the States do.

Let me now take the position as to practitioners in the High Court and other federal courts. Persons who are for the time being entitled to practise in the Supreme Court of a State or Territory will have the like entitlement to practise in federal courts. To show that they are " for the time being entitled " they will need to hold current practising certificates from a State or Territory in any case where the State or Territory makes this a test. The Chief Justice has already issued directions to this effect, and the Bill adopts the Chief Justice's approach. Territory practitioners do not at present need to hold practising certificates and, therefore, they will be able to practise in federal courts without holding such certificates. A State solicitor who has no current practising certificate will not, however, be able to take advantage of this provision. The right that he has to practise in a Territory cannot be used as a means of becoming a federal court practitioner unless in fact he practises as a solicitor in the Territory and has his sole or principal place of business there. What I have said relates to legal practitioners generally. There has always been a special provision in the Judiciary Act giving the Crown Solicitor a right to practise in his official capacity. The Bill takes the opportunity to restate this right in greater detail than before.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.







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