Australian Solicitors' Conduct Rules
Australian Solicitors' Conduct Rules (PDF)
Solicitors’ Conduct Rules were adopted by the Council of the Law
Society of South Australia on 25 July 2011 and were the culmination of
work undertaken over a period of two years by the Law
Council of Australia and its constituent bodies to develop a
single, uniform set of Australian
Solicitors’ Conduct Rules. See below for a detailed chronology of
the development and implementation process.
Nationally uniform professional conduct rules are an important step
towards creating a national legal profession in Australia. Their
adoption will ensure that all Australian solicitors are bound by a
common set of professional obligations and ethical principles when
dealing with their clients, the courts, their fellow legal
practitioners and other persons.
It is important to understand the function and purpose of the Australian
Solicitors’ Conduct Rules. Firstly, they are not a complete and
comprehensive statement of all of the ethical obligations that must be
observed by legal practitioners. There are many common law and
statutory ethical duties and obligations that legal practitioners must
comply with that are not covered by the Rules.
Secondly, the Rules are not laws. That is, a breach of the Rules alone
does not result in any penalty or disciplinary action. It is only when
a breach of the Rules forms the basis for a finding by the relevant
body that the practitioner concerned has committed an act of
unsatisfactory or unprofessional conduct that disciplinary action will
The Rules simply set a standard of behaviour or conduct that should be
observed by practitioners in certain circumstances. They are an
accepted measure for the use of practitioners so they can ensure that
they act appropriately in the circumstances demonstrated in the Rules,
and disciplinary bodies so they can have a baseline against which to
compare conduct by a practitioner that fits within the circumstances
provided for in the Rules.
The Australian Solicitors' Conduct
Rules - a Chronology
| March 2002
|| Revised version of the Model Rules
adopted by the LCA.
|| Review and
amendment of the Model Rules by the Council of the Law Society of South
Australia in light of local requirements.
| March 2003
|| Adoption in South Australia of the
Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice (PCR) incorporating the
majority of the Model Rules plus a number of local Rules on issues
that, unlike other jurisdictions, were not covered by our
Legal Practitioners Act (LPA).
| March 2009
||Formation by the
LCA of a National Conduct Rules Reference Group (NCR Group) to develop uniform national conduct rules.
The NCR Group considered submissions and representations made by
various key stake holders, as well as international sources such as the
England and Wales Solicitors’ Code of Conduct and the American Bar
Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
| June 2011
|| Approval of the Australian
Solicitors’ Conduct Rules (Conduct Rules) by the LCA.
| July 2011
|| Revocation of the
PCR and adoption of the Conduct Rules by the Council of the Law Society
of South Australia.
| September 2011
|| Amendment of Conduct Rules by the Society's Council to
insert PCR provisions on “Legal Assistance”, “Communicating with
Clients on Costs” and “Contingency Fees” (previously rules 34, 41 and
42 of the PCR) as Rules 16A, 16B, and 16C. Unlike other jurisdictions,
these matters were not covered by the South Australian LPA, and were therefore not
included in the version of the Conduct Rules adopted by the LCA.
| July 2014
||Upon the commencement of the Legal Practitioners (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2013, the Council revoked Local Rules 16B and 16C as their import was captured by the amendments to the LPA.