Petition against Motor Accidents Injuries Bill, passing of retired Chief Justice Jeffery Allan Miles AO, and Law Council meetings

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5 April 2019

The Barr Government is continuing on its ill-advised course with the introduction of the Motor Accident Injuries Bill 2019. The Law Society strongly opposes the proposed changes, which will leave Canberrans injured in road accidents much worse off. You can read our most recent media outline, setting out numerous areas of concern within the bill, on our website.
The Law Society is now attempting to petition the Assembly to vote against the Motor Accidents Injuries Bill 2019, so as to retain the existing rights to compensation of ACT residents. I ask all members to print the petition, have any and all concerned persons sign it, and return it to the Law Society by 7 May 2019.
Download the petition by clicking here.
Last Friday I spoke at a special sitting in the Supreme Court to pay tribute to retired Chief Justice Jeffery Allan Miles AO, who died recently. I’d like to express my gratitude to the many past Presidents of the Law Society who assisted in my tribute speech by providing anecdotes about Mr Miles. They variously described him as a decent, caring man, whose courteousness, compassion, and sense of justice made it a delight to appear before him in Court. He will be missed.
I attended the quarterly Law Council Director’s meeting on 22 and 23 March, and there were some items on the agenda that I’d like to draw attention to.
Consideration is being given to instituting a base rate of pay for solicitors after admission. Anecdotal evidence shows that young lawyers are being pressured into accepting excessive hours and lower than reasonable rates. An award rate, setting minimum wage and maximum hours, will go some way to alleviating this problem.
The Law Council is considering drafting an outline of the necessary legislation to implement the Uluru Statement and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. I take a personal interest in this topic, and when the Law Council have finished their draft, it will be sent to the appropriate committees of our Society for comment.
The meeting also drew attention to the considerable amount of pro bono advocacy work being performed by young lawyers in the Northern Territory, including for child protection. The work is hard, conditions not good, and demand for their services is high. These workers need respite, and there is an immediate need for capable and willing young lawyers to go to NT on pro bono basis for two weeks at a time. If you would like more information about volunteering for short pro bono stints in the top end, please get in touch.
Chris Donohue President, ACT Law Society