Prerequisites and Professional Obligations
Prerequisites and professional obligations
To be eligible to practise as a barrister in Western Australia you must be admitted to the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the holder of an unrestricted practising certificate issued by the Legal Practice Board (LPB).
Following admission, a local legal practitioner is required to undertake a period of restricted/supervised legal practice during which the practitioner cannot engage in legal practice unless supervised by a legal practitioner holding an unrestricted practising certificate.
As “supervised legal practice” must be undertaken as an employee and as the Barristers’ Rules of Western Australia preclude a barrister from practising as the employer of any legal practitioner who acts as a legal practitioner in the course of that employment, it is not possible to complete supervised legal practice with a barrister who is a member of The Western Australian Bar.
Further information about restricted practice is available on the LPB website.
The LPB has statutory responsibility for the regulation of all legal practitioners in Western Australia. It also regulates the issue of annual practising certificates to all legal practitioners, including barristers.
Under rule 5 of the Legal Profession Rules 2009 the standard renewal period is from 1 May to 31 May each year. Further information about applying for the grant or renewal of a Local Practising Certificate is available on the LPB website.
Since 2012 practitioners who intend to practise exclusively as barristers are required to request that a ‘barrister only’ condition be imposed on their practising certificate. A ‘barrister only’ condition will be imposed by the LBB on a local practising certificate at the request and with the agreement of the holder, pursuant to s47(3)(i) of the Legal Profession Act 2008. The arrangement is voluntary, but a person who does not agree to a ‘barrister only’ condition will not be entitled to use the title barrister under item 7, regulation 5(2) of the Legal Profession Regulations 2009.
Further information about the ‘barrister only’ condition is available on the LPB website.
Under s35 of the Legal Profession Act 2008, an Australian Legal Practitioner is entitled to engage in legal practice in Western Australia to the same extent that they are entitled to practise in their home jurisdiction.
Interstate barristers are not required to register with or notify The WA Bar, the Court, or any other organisation in order to appear in Western Australia. As a matter of courtesy, interstate barristers may wish to contact the Associate to the Judge to foreshadow their appearance, but there is no formal requirement to do so.
An Interstate Legal Practitioner who establishes an office in Western Australia is required to comply with the relevant interstate practitioner notice requirements by submitting a Form 6 – Notice of Establishment of Office by Interstate Legal Practitioner to the LPB.
Applicants who have been admitted to practise overseas or who are eligible to be admitted to practise overseas (ie both academic requirements and practical legal training requirements for admission overseas have been completed) are required to apply to the LPB for assessment of their eligibility for admission to practice in Western Australia.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Under Regulation 96 (a) and (b) Legal Profession Regulations 2009 (Regulations) all legal practitioners are required to hold professional indemnity insurance.
Regulation 97(1)(a) of the Regulations provides the following exemption from Regulation 96(a) or (b), relevant to members of The WA Bar:
“a barrister who is covered by a policy of professional indemnity insurance that –
- (i) is in a form approved by resolution of the Council of The Western Australian Bar Association; and
- (ii) provides cover up to a limit which, in the aggregate, is not less than that provided under a certificate of insurance under the PII arrangement for the period in respect of which exemption is claimed;”
“PII arrangement” means an arrangement made by the Law Society under regulation 84(1)(a).
“Barrister” is defined in the Legal Profession Act 2008 as an Australian Legal Practitioner who engages in legal practice solely as a barrister.
Each year Bar Council is required, pursuant to Regulation 97(1)(a) of the Regulations, to consider professional indemnity insurance policies for the purpose approving the form of the policies. Members are informed as to the outcome of Bar Council’s resolution by way of a memorandum from the President, which also includes information relevant to members’ responsibilities and obligations, and the renewal and notification process. Click here for further information about approved policies for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.
Pupillage/Bar Entry Examination
At present, there are no formal pupillage and/or bar entry examination requirements in Western Australia. From time to time, Bar Council may, when considering an application for membership from a junior practitioner, recommend that the practitioner undertakes a period of pupillage, or practitioners may decide to do so of their own volition.
Some chambers do offer pupillage and, or, a more formal mentoring program. Details are available directly from such chambers.