New criminal record checks have lawyers fuming

A new rule in Tasmania requiring criminal checks has lawyers up in arms.

New rules requiring criminal record checks for Tasmanian lawyers acting for children have lawyers up in arms.

The new rules, which suddenly came into effect earlier this month, mean that any lawyer who has contact with young people needs to fill out an application, prove their identity, pay a fee and undergo a national criminal history assessment, ongoing monitoring and risk assessment.

According to a report by The Mercury, the change came out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse and brings Tasmania in line with other states.

“This is an unnecessary ­administrative burden that does nothing to improve the safety of children,” said Tasmanian Law Society president Matthew Verney.

“There are lawyers who represent children in criminal matters, in civil matters, and also lawyers who act as separate representatives for children in child protection cases or as independent representatives in family law matters.

“From our point of view it’s quite serious.  The feedback I’ve had from my communications with the profession during the week is that most are very angry about it,” he said.

A spokesperson for the government said the law would stand, despite concerns raised with attorney-general Vanesa Goodwin.
Greg Barns, of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said the new laws are an insulting tax on lawyers.

“Is the Hodgman Government seriously suggesting that lawyers who have worked for years in juvenile justice and child protection must now ­undergo gross invasions of their privacy and their past simply to fulfil a revenue raising exercise on the part of the Justice Department?” he said.

“It will discourage lawyers from acting for children ­because many ... regard this as simply a revenue raising exercise by government, a gross ­example of red tape and duplication and, above all, completely unnecessary.

“I am not aware of any case in Australia where a lawyer has sexually interfered with a child client.”
 

Recent articles & video

Ex-Western Power GC is GHD's new CLO

International Bar Association reports legal issues arising ahead of Paris 2024 Olympics

US judiciary reviews ethical guidelines for hiring clerks after controversial appointment

Scotland First in UK to enact UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law

Maddocks pitches in on $1bn medical merger

Tonkin Drysdale Partners names criminal law team head

Most Read Articles

Kain Lawyers scoops up ex-PwC Australia legal business head as director

Federal Court declares misleading conduct in wine labelling dispute

Global firms bring A-game to support Orana BESS project

Maurice Blackburn director to helm the Australian Lawyers Alliance as national president