In December 2006, the Family Law Council, which is an advisory body for the Commonwealth Attorney-General made a number of recommendations relevant to the Law Council in its report, Collaborative Practice in Family Law. One of the recommendations was that the Law Council should establish a collaborative practice committee of lawyers practising in family law and other areas. The Law Council was recognised by the Family Law Council as the most appropriate organisation to oversee the promotion and development of collaborative practice in Australia. Therefore, on 23 June 2007, Directors approved the establishment of the Committee.
Collaborative practice is a process in which the parties, their lawyers and any other professionals involved, agree not to go to court or threaten to go to court in resolving a dispute. All involved also agree that if the process is not adhered to, the lawyers cannot represent the parties in any subsequent, related litigation. The process involves a series of meetings with all parties and professionals, interest-based negotiation, full disclosure and use of joint experts.
Collaborative practice originated in the USA in 1990 in family law matters. It has spread to a number of other countries, including Australia. It is also used in other areas of law, including commercial law. Collaborative practice has been used in Australia since 2005, primarily in family law matters. Following the US model, collaborative professionals usually form small to medium sized practice groups to provide support to each other and further develop the practice. A number of practice groups may form a state or territory association of collaborative professionals. Such associations currently exist in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA. There is considerable interest in establishing such an association in South Australia.
Committee members are: