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Foreign laws and lawyers
If you are an Australian-qualified lawyer who wants to practise overseas, or an overseas-qualified lawyer who wants to practise in Australia, there are special rules that apply to you. These rules vary depending on which country you were qualified in and where you’re hoping to practise.
New Zealand lawyers practising in Australia
If you were admitted to practise in New Zealand, you can apply to be admitted to practise in an Australian jurisdiction.
To practise in Victoria, you should first apply to the Victorian Legal Admissions Board for admission to the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Once you’ve been admitted, you must obtain an Australian practising certificate before you can practise, and you must comply with all regulatory requirements.
Australian lawyers practising overseas
If you’re an Australian lawyer who lives overseas, you may not need to hold an Australian practising certificate to practise overseas. Check with the regulatory authority in the country you want to practise in.
If you must hold an Australian practising certificate, your existing practising certificate conditions will not usually change if you practise overseas (see ‘Other conditions’ below).
If you don’t need to hold an Australian practising certificate, we recommend that you cancel it while you’re overseas (see How to cancel a PC). You can re-apply for one when you return to Victoria.
Whether or not you hold an Australian practising certificate while practising overseas, you’ll also need to satisfy the requirements of the local regulators.
If you hold a current practising certificate and move overseas to practise, you must notify us. You can do this in our online licensing portal, LSB Online. If you’re renewing your certificate from overseas, select the ‘practising overseas’ option when you renew through LSB Online.
When you return to practise in Victoria, you must also notify us of your new principal place of practice.
If you’re based overseas and hold a Victorian practising certificate, some conditions will still apply while practising overseas. You will still need to meet your continuing professional development obligations and to notify us of any ‘show cause’ events.
If you have a supervised legal practice condition on your practising certificate, you don’t have to be supervised while practising overseas. When you return to Victoria, you can use your overseas legal practice experience to apply for an exemption from supervised legal practice.
A ‘foreign lawyer’ is a person who is registered and entitled to engage in legal practice in a foreign country and who practises the law of that foreign country in Australia. To practise as a foreign lawyer in Victoria, you must apply to be registered.
Application for registration and fees
To apply for registration as a foreign lawyer, you must submit an application for grant or renewal of registration as a foreign lawyer to us. The form must include:
● the appropriate registration fee (see below);
● evidence that you’re currently registered to engage in legal practice in another country; and
● evidence that you have appropriate professional indemnity insurance which covers you for practising foreign law in Victoria.
The registration fees for each practising year can be found on the practising certificate fees page.
Receiving trust money
If you’re applying for a registration certificate that authorises you to receive trust money, you must also show us that you have the necessary skills and expertise to operate a law practice trust account competently, diligently and honestly. Our Grant of Trust Authorisation Policy sets out the skills and expertise we expect for this, and what else we may consider when reviewing your application. You can meet these requirements if you complete an approved trust account course, like the one conducted by the Law Institute of Victoria. Visit the Law Institute of Victoria website for further information.
For more information on foreign lawyer registration applications, please see the notes accompanying the application form and our Foreign Lawyer Registration Policy.
Duration and conditions of registration
Registration as a foreign lawyer starts on the date on your registration certificate, and expires on 30 June of the financial year in which your registration is granted.
If you want to renew your registration for the next financial year, you must apply by 30 May.
We can impose any reasonable and relevant conditions on your registration.
As a foreign lawyer registered in Australia, you must meet the same professional, ethical and practice standards as lawyers practising Australian law.
Interstate-registered foreign lawyers
If you’re a foreign lawyer who is registered interstate, you can practise foreign law in Victoria. While you can practise in the same way as you can in the interstate jurisdiction that you’re registered in, you will be limited by any conditions imposed by your interstate registration, the conduct rules, the legislation or by us.