Practising Certificates

Requirement to Hold a Practising Certificate

Section 21 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 requires that all legal practitioners practising the profession of law in South Australia are required to hold an Australian practising certificate. A legal practitioner who practises the profession of the law wholly or mostly in South Australia is required to hold a South Australian practising certificate. Any person who practises the profession of the law without holding a practising certificate may be liable to prosecution and disciplinary proceedings. A South Australian practising certificate may be issued subject to restrictions and/or conditions. 


Practising Certificate Categories

In November 2015 LPEAC made amendments to the LPEAC Rules 2004 introducing practising certificate categories. The provisions in relation to practising certificate categories are contained in LPEAC Rule 3B. Click here to access the LPEAC Rules 2004.

For the purposes of the 2016/2017 renewal period the Society will be issuing category C certificates to all applicant practitioners holding practising certificates subject to LPEAC Rule 3 (restricted practising certificates), and category A certificates to all other applicant practitioners (except for category D applicants).

Category B certificates will be introduced during the course of the 2016/2017 period.

The fee of $595 for practising certificate categories A, B and C will be the same throughout the 2016/2017 period.

Volunteer Practising Certificates

Rule 3(b) of the Rules of the Legal Practitioners Education and Admission Council 2004 (LPEAC Rules) provides for the issue of a Category D practising certificate to practitioners who fit the required criteria. A Category D practising certificate is ‘a volunteer practising certificate which enables the practitioner to undertake legal practice in the manner they are otherwise entitled to in accordance with Rule 3, but only as a volunteer for a community legal centre (as defined in the Act) or for an institution or project approved by LPEAC where the practitioner will be covered by professional indemnity insurance.’ 

The definition of “volunteer” in the LPEAC Rules is as follows: 
… a person who receives no remuneration for the work they do or who is only reimbursed for expenses actually incurred during the course of them carrying out the work. 

The definition of “community legal centre” in the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (Act) is as follows: 
… a body that provides legal services to the community, or a section of the community, on a non-profit basis, and includes the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, but does not include the Legal Services Commission

To apply for a Volunteer Practising Certificate you will need to complete and return a Form C.

 

Applying for a Practising Certificate

If you are applying for your first practising certificate after admission in South Australia, you must complete a Form A and provide it to the Law Society. On receipt of payment of the practising certificate fee and professional indemnity insurance contribution (if applicable) a practising certificate will be issued. For more information about the Professional Indemnity insurance Scheme, click here.  If more than one month has passed since you were admitted in South Australia, an Affidavit must be lodged along with the Form A. A pro-forma Affidavit can be downloaded by clicking here

If you are applying for a practising certificate that is not your first in South Australia, you must complete a Form B and provide it to the Law Society. On receipt of payment of the practising certificate fee and professional indemnity insurance contribution (if applicable) a practising certificate will be issued. For more information about the Professional Indemnity insurance Scheme, click here. Where a practitioner has not held a South Australian practising certificate for a period exceeding one month, or is applying for a practising certificate more than one month after their date of admission, an Affidavit must be lodged along with the Form B. A pro-forma Affidavit can be downloaded by clicking here

If you are applying for a practising certificate for the first time in South Australia and it has been more than 3 years since your admission in South Australia, or your last South Australian practising certificate expired 3 or more years ago, you need to comply with the requirements in LPEAC Rule 9. For information about LPEAC Rule 9 please see the Guide to LPEAC Rule 9 here. If you have been admitted elsewhere in Australia you also have the option of applying for a South Australian practising certificate via Mutual Recognition. Please see the Guide to Mutual Recognition for further details.


Issuing a Practising Certificate

You will not be permitted to renew your practising certificate until the Law Society is satisfied that your professional indemnity insurance requirements have been satisfied, and that if you held a practising certificate during the preceding period you complied with your MCPD obligations for that period. 

For information about MCPD requirements, click here or if you would like to check your profile to view your current MCPD compliance please click here.

On the Society being satisfied that all requirements have been met you will be emailed an invoice for the practising certificate fee of $595 (2016/17 fee). If you are responsible for paying payment of a contribution to the SA PII Scheme, you will also be emailed an invoice for that contribution.

Practising certificates are issued to the email address provided on your application once the payment is received by the Society. Please allow up to 5 business days for the application process and receipt of your Practising Certificate.

 

Conditions

All South Australian practising certificates are issued subject to the following conditions: 


  1. That the practitioner complies with the mandatory continuing professional development (MCPD) obligations contained in Appendix C to the Rules of the Legal Practitioners Education and Admission Council 2004.
For information about how you can comply with the MCPD condition, click here.

  1. That the practitioner satisfies the insurance requirements imposed by s19 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981.
For information about how you can comply with the insurance condition, click here.


Further conditions may also be placed upon a practising certificate by the Legal Practitioner’s Education and Admission Council (LPEAC), the Legal Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal, the Legal Practitioner’s Conduct Commissioner, the Supreme Court, or a regulatory body of another State.


Practising Certificate Restrictions

Practitioners who were admitted pursuant to the 1999 and 2004 LPEAC Rules are required under those Rules to complete a period of restricted practice before being entitled to being able to practise without restrictions.

Practitioners Admitted from 1 February 1999 to 31 December 2003 – Employment Requirement

If you were admitted in South Australia during the period 1 February 1999 to 31 December 2003 (inclusive) your right to practise was or is subject to the restriction imposed by Rule 6 of the LPEAC Rules 1999 which stated that practitioners admitted in South Australia are not entitled to practise as a sole practitioner until they have completed at least twelve months’ continuous full-time employment as an employed practitioner following the first issue to them of a practising certificate.

For the purpose of Rule 6 the following definitions apply:

“Practise as a sole practitioner” means practise other than as an employed practitioner, where the employer is a practitioner of not less than five years’ experience in practice, or other than as a partner or associate in a firm where at least one full-time principal is so qualified and provided also that an employer or principal so qualified is in full-time practice at the place at which the practitioner is employed or engaged.

“Employed practitioner” means a practitioner employed in law related employment as defined in Rule 6(3).

“Law related employment” means employment in Australia:

  • in a private law practice;
  • in a government department or semi-government authority if the employment requires the performance of the work of a legal practitioner and which the Board considers appropriate for the purposes of this rule;
  • in a corporate legal office;
  • in a community legal service;
  • in the office of the Crown Solicitor, the South Australian Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commonwealth Australian Government Solicitor or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions;
  • in any other organisation, department or office which the Board approves for the purposes of this rule;
  • as a judge’s associate.​

Your practising certificate will be endorsed with this restriction if it applies to you. 


If your practising certificate is endorsed with this restriction and you wish to have it lifted you will need to make an application to the Board of Examiners by submitting a statutory declaration and supporting documentation to the Law Society of South Australia. A pro-forma statutory declaration for this purpose can be downloaded by clicking here (BOE Form 1).

You will need to include with your statutory declaration supporting evidence from your employer or employers. A pro-forma letter for this purpose can be downloaded by clicking here (BOE Form 2).

Applications that are not able to be determined by the Board’s delegate will be included in the agenda for the next applicable Board meeting.

Practitioners admitted on or after 1 January 2004 – Supervised Practice Requirement

If you were admitted in South Australia on or after 1 January 2004, your right to practise was or is subject to the restriction imposed by Rule 3 of the LPEAC Rules 2004 which requires that practitioners admitted in South Australia complete 2 years of supervised practice before being entitled to practise as a principal.

It is important to emphasise the definition of “to practise as a principal” in this context. Prior to 11 November 2015 the LPEAC Rules 2004 defined “to practise as a principal” as follows:

“to practise while holding an unrestricted practising certificate following completion of supervised practice.”

From 11 November 2015 the LPEAC Rules 2004 defined “to practise as a principal” as follows:

“to practise whilst holding a Category A or Category B principal practising certificate as prescribed in Rule 3B following completion of supervised practice.”

Otherwise, for the purpose of LPEAC Rule 3 the following definitions apply:

“Supervised practice” means practise as an employed practitioner controlled or managed by a legal practitioner entitled to practise as a principal during which supervised practice the practitioner is employed at the location where the principal conducts his or her practice.

“Employed practitioner” means a practitioner employed to perform predominantly the work of a legal practitioner:

  • in a private law practice;
  • in a government department or semi-government authority if the employment requires the performance of the work of a legal practitioner and which the Council considers appropriate for the purposes of this rule;
  • in a corporate legal office;
  • in a community legal service;
  • in the office of the Crown Solicitor, the South Australian Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commonwealth Australian Government Solicitor or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions;
  • in any other organisation, department or office which the Council approves for the purposes of this rule;
  • as a judge’s associate which work so qualifies.

     

Your practising certificate will be endorsed with this restriction if it applies to you.

If your practising certificate is endorsed with this restriction and you wish to have it lifted you will need to make an application to the Board of Examiners by submitting a statutory declaration and supporting documentation to the Law Society of South Australia. A pro-forma statutory declaration for this purpose can be downloaded by clicking here (BOE Form 3).

You will need to include with your statutory declaration supporting evidence from your employer or employers. A pro-forma letter for this purpose can be downloaded by clicking here (BOE Form 4).

Applications that are not able to be determined by the Board’s delegate will be included in the agenda for the next applicable Board meeting.

Contact Us

For further information, and to submit applications for the lifting of restrictions, please emailto Ethics and Practice.
 

 

LPEAC Supervision Guidelines

The Guidelines for the Supervision of Newly Admitted Practitioners published by LPEAC on 22 July 2016 are available by clicking here.  

 

Overseas Practice in South Australia

 

Section 21(3a) of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 provides that a person providing legal advice or legal services relating to the law of a place outside Australia will not be taken to be practising the profession of the law by providing that advice or service. This means that a person who only provides legal advice or legal services relating to the law of a place outside Australia is not required to hold a practising certificate If you think you may fall into this category, please contact the Ethics and Practice Unit at ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au or (08) 8229 0200 to obtain advice on the matter.


Further Enquiries

 

If you have any further queries, contact the Ethics and Practice Unit at ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au or (08) 8229 0200.