The National Alliance for Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) and National Task Team on Community Based paralegals gave an oral and written submission to the Committee concerning their request that the Legal Practice Bill should include clauses giving recognition to, and regulating, paralegals, particularly those based at community-based advice offices.

The outreach and importance of their work was emphasised, and some background was given on the bodies. Although previous versions of the Legal Practice Bill had incorporated clauses dealing with this branch of the profession, the latest version did not, and it was explained, firstly by the Department, that the current Bill was a compromise reached after extensive concerns that the attorneys’ and advocates’ position must firstly be sorted out, and by Members that the Bill was now at a fairly advanced stage and it would be impossible, for logistical reasons, even if the other branches of the profession agreed to insert new clauses, to deal with financial requests, craft suitable wording and get the Bill passed before the end of the Fourth Parliament.

It was suggested that the Committee could include, in its Report, a recommendation that the matter be dealt with, and the Minister be asked to report on progress, and that the entities should follow up with the new Parliament, and the Department, the drafting of either an amendment to what would then be the Legal Practice Act, or a completely new Bill, after the elections. All Members expressed their appreciation of the sterling work being done by advice offices and agreed that there was definitely a place for, and a desire to regulate and recognise this profession.

To read the submission please go here: