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Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2017

The submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was prepared by the Law Council. 

Schedule 1 of the Bill seeks to give effect to Recommendation 1 of the 2014 Independent Review of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, (the “Independent Review”) that lawyers who hold practising certificates be removed from regulation by the Migration Agents Registration Authority, so that they are regulated entirely by their relevant state and territory legal profession body when practising migration law.

The Bill intends that, from 1 July 2018, a legal practitioner who holds a practising certificate will not be permitted to be registered as a migration agent.

The Law Council strongly supports removing dual regulation of lawyers when practising migration law. The Law Council has consistently advocated against dual regulation of the legal profession as an unnecessary and costly regulatory burden for legal practitioners, and a source of confusion and uncertainty for their clients.

The Australian legal profession is comprehensively regulated under robust State and Territory legal profession regulatory laws and arrangements, which include comprehensive complaint handling and disciplinary measures, and consumer protections more extensive than those available under the Migration Act 1958.

The Law Council notes concerns that the elimination of dual regulation could have consequences for some migration agents, such as those who hold what is referred to as a “restricted” legal practising certificate, i.e. a practising certificate that requires the holder to complete a period of supervised legal practice or satisfy other requirements before being authorised to engage in unrestricted legal practice.

The Law Council recommends that provision be made for a transitional period, of 2 years, to enable these affected migration agents to complete the steps required by their legal profession regulatory bodies to have the restrictions on their practising certificates lifted.

You can read the full submission below.

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