Centre advocates non-mandatory pro bono incentives; Commonwealth adopts conflicts protocol
5 June 2008
The Centre has recently surveyed the panel members of the Victorian Government Legal Services Panel about the operation of the pro bono condition in the Victorian tender contract. An analysis of the responses to the questionnaire can be found in the Reports Section of the Centre’s website.
Informed by these findings, the Centre has developed a draft model it will recommend the Commonwealth adopts that does not create a mandatory obligation to provide pro bono work. The Centre seeks comment from the legal profession on the draft model before providing final advice to the government.
The Commonwealth Legal Service Directions (LSDs) are to be amended from 1 July 2008 with a view to ensuring that Commonwealth agencies do not discriminate against external legal service providers who perform pro bono legal work against the Commonwealth. The Office of Legal Services Coordination intends to issues a Guidance Note to accompany this amendment.
The Centre has been advocating to Commonwealth, State and Territory governments since mid-2003 that a protocol be adopted that makes clear that government should not penalise or prejudice legal service providers who act against them on a pro bono basis. The Victorian Government adopted the protocol as part of its tendering arrangements, but until now no other government has adopted the protocol. The LSDs are a set of binding rules made by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903 about the performance of legal work for the Commonwealth.
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