Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 290 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (10.34), in reply: I thank the Leader of the Opposition and Mr Moore for their support for the legislation. I think it is a sensible way of being able to regulate the activities of solicitors who deal with valuable securities on behalf of their clients. I think it was only yesterday that the media reported a particular case of a solicitor and an accountant who had defrauded some money from some jewellers in Canberra. I think that particular case illustrated, although it was a fairly unfortunate incident, that that kind of incident happens quite infrequently in the ACT. When a solicitor abuses his or her position, the circumstances are fairly rare and noteworthy and generally get quite heavy publicity. It is a tribute, in a sense, to our legal profession in the ACT that the standards are sufficiently high to make those incidents rare and, for that reason, newsworthy.

The provisions that the Assembly is passing today ensure that the controls on solicitors are reasonable and practicable. The controls as placed in the Legal Practitioners Act, as it now stands, were somewhat unreasonable, requiring solicitors to account for material in their possession, the content of which they may not have known. For example, a solicitor who held in a sealed envelope perhaps share scrips, some sort of power of attorney or other documents that might have affected access to money, under the terms of the legislation, would have been responsible for disclosing and accounting for that material in his possession. That is clearly ridiculous. In a sense, we have relaxed the provisions to deal with controlled moneys separately from valuable securities.

As Mr Moore indicated, there is the danger, of course, that that weakening could be exploited by unscrupulous people. I think the chances of that happening are quite remote; nonetheless, I do affirm that the Government will move swiftly to come back to the issue of what controls ought to be in place for valuable securities, in the event that we find that there are a significant number of people trying to exploit that particular change in the law. I thank members for their support. I hope that this move will be welcomed by the community and by the legal profession.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .