2018/2019 Annual Report

21 October, 2019
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From the Chair

This report marks LPLC’s 33rd consecutive year of providing compulsory professional indemnity insurance to Australian legal practitioners. 

I am pleased to report the Legal Practitioners Liability Fund remains in a healthy financial position with net equity of $121.3m, a figure boosted this year by stronger than forecast investment returns for the reporting period.

In 2018–2019 the pool insured by LPLC grew from 18,800 to 19,559 practitioners, comprising 17,439 solicitors (in 4,539 law practices, including most of Australia’s largest law firms) and 2,120 barristers.   

LPLC’s statutory self-insurance scheme serves the interests of the legal profession and consumers of legal services by meeting the twin objectives under Part 4.4 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law to ensure that:

  • legal practitioners are covered by approved professional indemnity insurance; and
  • clients of law practices have adequate protection against the consequences of professional negligence.

The scheme provides a secure supply of high-quality insurance cover for practising lawyers together with a transparent and stable premium structure. It provides practitioners with support from LPLC’s team of experienced claims and risk solicitors in their time of crisis — when access to knowledgeable and objective advice is most needed; and it invests back into the profession through a multi-faceted risk management program educating practitioners about old and new professional risks in daily legal practice, and reducing the incidence of negligence claims.

The stability of LPLC’s scheme contrasts with regular fluctuations in the availability and cost of insurance in commercial markets. The enduring value of LPLC’s statutory scheme is the way it protects the profession from the cyclical chaos of commercial insurance markets — as we saw again this year. The breadth of LPLC’s cover and our premium pool were unaffected by the dramatic reduction in capacity, and the enormous increase in price of top-up insurance for law practices from commercial insurers.

Contrast also the stability of LPLC’s scheme with the travails of architects, engineers and other building professionals who rely on commercial insurers for their insurance programs, and currently find themselves struggling to obtain the cover needed to do their jobs because of the impact of combustible cladding exposures.

In July 2018 we welcomed Danny Barlow as a newly appointed Committee member to fill the vacancy created by Miranda Milne’s retirement. He is a director of Dawes & Vary Riordan Pty Ltd in Shepparton and a past President of the Law Institute of Victoria. Danny has brought to the Committee an intimate knowledge of legal practise and valuable insights into issues of practical importance to the profession, as well as a voice for the interests of regional practitioners.

Operationally the Committee has enjoyed a productive year. Justin Toohey in his first full year as Chief Executive Officer has initiated a strong renewal program across the business, bringing fresh ideas and new energy to the Committee’s operations. He also brings a strong emphasis on ensuring LPLC’s culture and corporate governance are uppermost in the way the organisation conducts business, engages with stakeholders (the Victorian Legal Services Board, Legal Services Council, Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar in particular) and manages compliance with public sector regulation. 

An important initiative during the reporting year was our engagement of new actuarial consultants (Finity Consulting) to review LPLC’s premium philosophy, pricing structure and capital management policy. The review made some recommendations for adjustments to our model to extend the gross fee income (GFI) method of premium assessment (in place of practitioner headcount), and to modify the risk rating system to place greater weight on claims frequency for claims loading purposes.  Implementation of their recommendations has commenced and will continue next year.

LPLC continues to devote equivalent resources to both risk management and claims management, reflecting our commitment to pro-actively assist practitioners in learning how to improve their risk profiles, as much as helping them when problems arise. In contemporary legal practise in most firms, sophisticated risk management now extends to practice management, business strategy, business processes and better use of technology.

The rise of cybercrime, which emerged as a claims trend last year, continued during this year. Our risk management program now focuses heavily on alerting practitioners to this new risk and ways to make their practice more cybersecure. During the year LPLC also worked with Marsh insurance brokers and Chubb Insurance Company in their development and launch of a new cyber insurance policy to sit alongside LPLC’s professional indemnity policy as optional cover for firms wishing to purchase greater insurance protection against cybercrime.

It is a credit to LPLC’s ongoing focus on risk management initiatives, in combination with the efforts of practising lawyers, that the number of claims per thousand insured practitioners shows continuing long-term decline, notwithstanding the increasing complexity and demands of legal practice, and a continuing rise in the number of practitioners insured by LPLC.

Insurance for the profession which compensates consumers for losses caused by negligent advice and enhances the practise of law is, and will remain, the fundamental purpose of our work at LPLC. I thank my fellow Committee members for their diligence and support with this important work during the year. I also thank the respective sub-committee Chairs, Patricia Kelly (Remuneration & Appointments), Helen Thornton (Audit & Risk) and John Cain (Investment) for their leadership in each of these areas. Finally, I recognise and thank the Committee’s management and staff who continue to serve the profession with distinction.

John Corcoran AM

Chair

From the CEO

Compulsory professional indemnity insurance is an important safeguard in the regulatory framework for the legal profession, with twin statutory objectives of ensuring the availability of broad insurance protection for all practitioners, and providing a source of compensation for clients where their errors and omissions cause financial loss.

Our statutory insurance scheme grew by more than 750 practitioners in 2018–2019 — the result of many firms increasing employee numbers in response to greater client demand for their services, and new practitioners entering the profession at a faster rate than those departing. 

Strong financial results for 2018–2019 were achieved by a combination of:

  • proactive claims management continuing to reduce outstanding liabilities, particularly from earlier underwriting years
  • buoyant investment returns during the second half of the year, and
  • vigilant cost control.

However, the success of our insurance scheme is not measured by 12-month results. It is measured by performance over a longer time horizon, and for this reason our financial focus involves managing trends rather than looking at moment-intime positions. Our goal is a strong and sustainable insurance scheme over the long-term, and on this metric I am pleased to report that LPLC is trending favourably.

In 2018 the Committee approved a three-year Strategic Plan to rejuvenate and reset LPLC’s insurance and risk management. In the first year of the plan we have made good progress addressing our core objectives and strategic priorities.

Key achievements for the 2018–2019 financial year included:

  • the review of LPLC’s premium model by new actuarial consultants, Finity Consulting, with some resultant modifications to premium assessments for a number of firms
  • the excellent work of our team of experienced claims solicitors who finalised 554 claims and notifications during the year (solicitors and barristers), whilst at the same time achieving a significant reduction in the number of litigated claims 
  • a return of 7.78% ($19.8m) on invested funds
  • sell-out attendances at new workshops for conveyancing practitioners (Building a Better Section 32 Statement and Contract of Sale Tune-Up) as part of our focus on improving conveyancing practice
  • working with Marsh and Chubb Insurance Company to create a tailored optional cyber insurance policy for law firms insured by LPLC
  • a review of our legal panel and entry into new three-year contracts with a refreshed panel for the management of litigated claims
  • appointment of new staff and consultants to enhance our communications, IT security, risk and compliance functions
  • more regular liaison with the Victorian Legal Services Board, Legal Services Council, Law Institute of Victoria and Victorian Bar Council on insurance and risk-related matters
  • continued dialogue with regulators and with key industry participants (including PEXA and Sympli) in relation to the phased implementation of electronic conveyancing across the country.

The review of our premium model by Finity Consulting in 2018 resulted in the Committee extending the gross fee income (GFI) premium rating method to all firms with turnover above $3m (previously $5m). Further lowering of the turnover threshold for GFI assessment is planned in 2019.

Changes were also made to the risk rating system of claims loadings to target firms with higher claims frequency, whilst at the same time reducing loadings for firms with just one claim.

While there were some ‘winners’ and some ‘losers’ among the law practices impacted by these adjustments, there is a much clearer correlation between claims costs and GFI, than between claims costs and practitioner headcount. The GFI method also enables us to more equitably distribute the premium burden among an increasing variety of law practice structures.

Solicitor premium rates for 2019 were subject to a 2.5% increase for claims inflation across the pool. Barrister premium rates remained the same as for 2018. Bernadette Mallia and her Insurance Services team once again managed a busy renewal period with aplomb.

During the 2019 renewal period, for the first time we collected data from law practices categorising firm revenues by areas of practice. We will be reflecting on that data ahead of the 2020 renewal, as to whether there is significant cross-subsidisation across areas of practice in our flat pricing model. The data will also better inform our risk management approach.

The work of our claims team, led by Jodie Potts, remains the engine-room of LPLC’s core insurance business. Their skill in evaluating complex scenarios, distilling the key issues, establishing claim reserves, and moving matters from inception to resolution as proactively as circumstances permit, was again to the fore. It is most visibly felt by the insured practitioners they assist, but the reliability of LPLC’s claims estimating is a critical input to the scheme’s success and enables our scheme to run with minimum reliance on reinsurance.

Of the claims team, I would particularly like to acknowledge and recognise Alex Macmillan’s remarkable 25th year of continuous, and unfinished, service to LPLC this year.

Our team of experienced Risk Managers, led by Heather Hibberd, maintained LPLC’s vibrant and popular program of affordably priced and highly relevant risk education for practitioners and support staff in the city, suburbs and throughout regional Victoria. This year there was a significant focus on conveyancing, cyber risk and on client/ matter intake — all of these being claims prone areas of practice.

We also delivered the risk management module of all approved Practice Management Courses to new applicants for principal practising certificates, and our Risk Managers continued to conduct numerous in-house training programs for industry groups and many of our larger law firms in Melbourne and interstate.

These activities are important for raising awareness of areas of risk in legal practice and reminding practitioners of LPLC’s available publications and practice management tools to support their work. Of equal importance is the reciprocal opportunity for us to engage with and keep a finger on the pulse of the profession.

There are exciting opportunities ahead for us to incorporate new technology into our risk management offering for practitioners and this is an area of focus for us in 2019. There is no ‘silver bullet’ for eliminating professional liability risk, but technology can certainly assist us to inform and educate practitioners, and to develop tools for reducing the risk of professional errors in their practise of law.

LPLC’s scheme is founded on the principle of mutuality — its ongoing success rests on a continuing partnership between practitioners and LPLC to minimise the incidence of claims. I thank all practitioners who have contributed to that endeavour this year. 

I also thank the LPLC Chair, each of the Sub-Committee Chairs, and all Committee members who provided management with clear strategic direction and operational support where required. 

Finally, I also thank our hard-working executive leadership team, LPLC staff and all our external service providers for their contribution to LPLC’s achievements this year.

Justin Toohey

Chief Executive Officer

Claims

LPLC’s claims management philosophy is for early notification by practitioners, with early assessment of potential exposures once notified, and pro-active management to resolve claims as expeditiously and cost effectively as possible.

Many notifications are precautionary. In quite a number of these situations, the underlying problem is resolved by the practitioner with some advice from LPLC and no claim eventuates.

Approximately 60 per cent of matters notified to LPLC are claims, but only half proceed to litigation. A small number of litigated claims are intractable disputes where the claim is assessed as having no merit and is defended. The rest are resolved after investigation and negotiation. 

Most claims are resolved either through private negotiation prior to the commencement of proceedings, or at mediation when proceedings are required to define the issues and allow for interlocutory processes to help with assessing liability and damages questions.

Claims – Solicitors

During the reporting period, claims solicitors finalised 484 claims and notifications from solicitors across the current and earlier underwriting years.

Many of these matters were handled in-house by LPLC’s experienced claims team. There was a substantial reduction in the number of matters briefed to panel solicitors, reflecting fewer litigated claims, as well as our strategy to proactively resolve matters and prevent litigation.

There were 455 claims and notifications from solicitors during 2018–2019 with incurred estimates of $39.18 million. While the number of claims and notifications is slightly lower, the incurred estimate is similar to 2017–2018.

Areas of high claims experience in 2018–2019 were:

  • property and conveyancing, accounting for approximately 30% of claims.  They arose from defective vendor statements, drafting errors in contracts of sale, cyber fraud, erroneous stamp duty advice, inadequate advice about property restrictions, and inadequate advice on contract terms
  • commercial law, accounting for approximately 15% of claims. Significant claims in this area arose from drafting errors, negligent tax advice, and alleged misrepresentations in connection with client investments
  • commercial litigation also accounted for approximately 15% of claims, a sharp increase from prior underwriting years. Principal areas of concern were claims of negligence in relation to settlement of matters and alleged breaches of  overarching obligations under the Civil Procedure Act 2010.

Solicitors remain vulnerable targets for cyber-criminals with the number of claims and notifications arising from cyber-related incidents increasing in 2018–2019. The most common scenario is business email compromise, where practitioner and/or client email are intercepted by fraudsters and altered to re-direct settlement funds from property, estate, family law or litigation.

Claims from earlier underwriting years continued to develop within estimates with significant reserve releases. This helped to offset the higher than anticipated claims costs from the current year.

Claims – Barristers

During the reporting period, claims solicitors finalised 70 claims and notifications from barristers across the current and earlier underwriting years.

For the 2018–2019 underwriting year, there were 51 claims and notifications from barristers, with incurred estimates of $4.38 million.

These estimates are significantly higher than prior underwriting years but are not indicative of a rising trend of claims against barristers. Rather, they highlight the greater risk of claims volatility and the impact of occasional large matters in a smaller pool of practitioners

Major themes giving rise to claims and notifications reported during 2018–2019 concerned:

  • disputes emerging following the settlement of litigation — there were several variations of this theme arising from commercial disputes, family law litigation and personal injury claims, with allegations ranging from errors and omissions in settlement agreements, negligent advice to settle (rather than proceed to trial), failure to advise on tax/stamp duty aspects of settlement agreements, under-settlement, and a number of matters where fee disputes arose following settlements
  • claims by dissatisfied litigants
  • alleged deficiencies in a barrister’s preparation or involvement in litigation, including drawing of pleadings, acting without instructions, bringing claims in the   wrong jurisdiction, missing limitation dates, and inadequate advice in relation to prospects of success.

Pleasingly, there were fewer claims this year against barristers for alleged breaches of the Civil Procedure Act 2010.

Risk Management

LPLC’s risk management services contribute significantly to our strategic objectives of protecting the interests of legal practitioners and their clients and maintaining public confidence in the legal profession. 

Risk management activities are multipronged to address the variety of risk issues and target underlying causes of claims. They are conducted via face-to-face education sessions, publications and direct contact with practitioners. They address legal issues, practice management systems and behavioural issues emerging from the underlying causes of claims.

This year our risk management activities had a clear focus on the avoidance of conveyancing errors and managing cyber risk. We also increased our face-to-face contact with firms and practitioners and worked with key legal profession stakeholders.

Initiatives for the safer practise of conveyancing

We increased the reach of our Conveyancing Best Practise Program, looking at sample contracts and section 32 statements, and providing feedback to practices on their compliance with legislative requirements. Practitioners participating in the program found this ‘peer review’ a valuable and effective service. 

We ran conveyancing specific seminars on section 32 statements and contracts of sale over a series of events to sell-out audiences during the year. The sessions provided training to improve practitioner understanding of the legal issues underpinning standard form documents, and helped bring practitioners up-to-date with changes in the law affecting the preparation of these documents. 

Property topics featured heavily in our annual major risk management events in the city, regional and metropolitan areas.

Increasing legal understanding of conveyancing risks and pitfalls was also achieved through a series of articles in the May Law Institute Journal, and through important bulletins to the profession on proposed retrospective changes to off the plan contracts, the new GST withholding regime, PEXA and electronic funds transfer.

Our GST and general enquiries lines helped practitioners deal with more than 1,000 property-related legal enquiries.

Addressing cyber risks

Cyber claims continued to be an emerging area of risk for all legal practices no matter their size or location. Law practices handling significant electronic funds transfers in connection with the settlement of conveyancing, probate, family law and litigation matters are most at risk.

We started a five-step cyber campaign with our renewal notices for the 2018–2019 year and supported that initiative during the year with seminars at most of our risk management events around Melbourne and regional Victoria. We also published a variety of materials including a risk video, bulletin and periodic blogs addressing cyber risk issues.

Direct contact with firms

FIRM VISITS

We continued our program of visiting law practices in city and suburban locations, raising awareness of LPLC’s risk management services, and talking to practitioners in their own environment about ways in which they manage their professional risk profiles. Many practitioners work on their own or in small firms, and these visits introduce them to LPLC’s practice resources and establish a relationship to increase the likelihood of them contacting us to seek assistance when they most need it.

In some cases, our firm visits resulted in impromptu cyber risk or general risk management discussions with other solicitors and support staff in the firm.

HELPING NEWLY ESTABLISHED FIRMS

 In addition to setting up their insurance policy, LPLC has three contact points with principals establishing their own new firm:

  1. presentation of the risk management module of each of the practice management courses available for new principals in Victoria offered by the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV), College of Law and Leo Cussen Institute
  2. phone or email contact initiated upon opening a new practice and introduction to the range of practice support materials available from LPLC
  3. invitation to attend one of our Building Solid Foundations workshops, where a small group of practitioners all starting their own firms are introduced to each other, and provided with guidance on business strategy and key risk issues to consider when growing a sustainable legal practice.

These activities build rapport with practitioners when they are starting a new phase in their career, open up networking opportunities, and help them put good risk management strategies in place from the outset.

RISK ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

We continued our Risk Assistance Program during the year, visiting firms identified from our claims data as needing special assistance to address the occurrence of multiple claims brought against them by dissatisfied clients.

These visits entail in-depth discussion about the firm’s specific risk management strategies and development of a tailored practice management improvement plan.

All participating firms report positive feedback on this program.

RISK MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE

Meetings were held with many other firms facing specific practice management issues resulting in recommendations to improve the organisation of their office, systems and business plans. In a busy practice many practitioners are often so consumed with day-to-day pressures, they find it hard to take time to pause and reflect objectively on important structural elements of legal practice.

We also answered over 2,000 matter specific risk enquiries through our general enquiry service and specific GST enquiry service. These enquiries are by telephone or email and give practitioners objective risk advice and an opportunity to talk through things concerning them in particular matters.

Through these enquiries we are often able to direct practitioners to resources that not only help solve their immediate query, but also provide information and resources to increase their own knowledge and understanding of practice areas.

Ad hoc telephone and email assistance of this nature helps practitioners make more informed decisions and minimises the risk of claims occurring.

LARGE FIRM RISK  MANAGERS NETWORK

Large and mid-tier firms all have dedicated staff tasked with responsibility for leading risk management functions within their firms. The number and scope of these roles has grown considerably in the last 10 years, and they interact with LPLC in a variety of ways and on a broad variety of topics. 

During the year we convened two meetings of this Risk Manager’s Network Group, which focused on cyber risks and information governance.

Raising awareness of claims and their causes

A core part of our risk management program is the analysis of the root causes of negligence claims made against practitioners during the year. This analysis informs LPLC’s publication of materials and speaking engagements to raise the awareness of the causes and appropriate mitigation strategies for firms to avoid re-occurrence.

Some of the practice management topics covered during the year were:

  • retainer management
  • dealing with difficult clients
  • using empathy in mediation for better outcomes
  • reviewing precedent letters and using precedents properly
  • destruction of files
  • handling trust money
  • developing risk management strategies.

Our publications also addressed new laws including cladding rectification, ipso facto laws, the new Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (Vic) and the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018 (Vic).

LPLC WEBSITE

The LPLC website is the organisation’s primary publicly accessible, digital communication channel with legal practitioners. The site is widely used by individuals and peak bodies within the legal sector as a key publication channel and information source with a focus on risk management and practice support. Traffic to the site grows steadily each year and content is continually added and reviewed to ensure information is current, relevant and helpful to the profession.

Sections of the site accessed by practitioners with the highest frequency included checklists and frequently asked questions about specific practice areas, bulletins providing specific risk alerts and advice about changes in law, blogs addressing claims hotspots, and our resources that support practitioners to better communicate with clients.

Working with regulators and professional associations

Supervision failures are a recurring theme in negligence claims against solicitors, and a clearer understanding of supervision obligations and practices will benefit the profession and the consumers of legal services.

This year LPLC worked with the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSBC) to help VLSBC develop clearer guidelines and education for practitioners about their responsibilities to adequately supervise staff, both for the purposes of supervised legal practice certification and more generally.

LPLC has also supported the VLSBC’s innovation regulatory consultation project to assess alternative legal service models and digital tools — LPLC’s assistance provides the VLSBC with perspectives on insurance and risk aspects of different proposals submitted to VLSBC. This consultation is important to help and encourage firms to innovate in ways that minimise risks to consumers of legal services and to the firms themselves.

VLSBC staff co-presented at LPLC’s metropolitan risk seminars this year on their new policies and risk-based preventative focus. Many of the underlying causes of negligence claims and VLSBC complaints are the same and coordination in delivering this education is beneficial for the profession.

We continued our bimonthly meetings with staff from the VLSBC and the LIV, discussing issues of mutual concern, trends and problems affecting the legal profession, activities and projects each organisation is undertaking and opportunities for collaboration.

LPLC staff spoke at several events throughout the year for the LIV and a number of its regional and suburban associations.

Investments

LPLC’s investment goal is to achieve long term real growth in the investment portfolio, generating returns enabling the Committee to maintain lower premiums for the profession.

The Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund seeks to achieve a return of CPI + three per cent over a rolling five-year period. It is constructed as a balanced fund with an average allocation of 60 per cent to growth assets and 40 per cent to defensive assets matching claims liabilities.

Within the growth allocation, LPLC maintains a diverse portfolio of managed fund investments comprising equities, real return, property and infrastructure.

The investment return for the reporting period was 7.78 per cent, a pleasing result at a time when the outlook is for lower returns.

Australian and international equities recorded strong returns during the reporting year. Equities were weighted in favour of international investments, with a lower exposure to Australian equities. There was an exposure to hedged and unhedged funds within the international equities to address currency fluctuation risk.

During the reporting year a new investment was made into the Lighthouse Infrastructure Fund Trust to increase LPLC’s exposure to infrastructure assets. Additional investments were also made into the Vanguard Australian Government Bond Index Fund to increase LPLC’s portfolio duration.

LPLC maintains an investment in unlisted wholesale commercial property, which has provided diversity in the growth portfolio.

This investment has, over time, provided steady returns through fluctuations in markets for equities.

Willis Towers Watson Australia Pty Ltd were investment advisers to the Committee during the reporting period.

Funds were held with the following managers:

Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee

The Committee’s full bios can be found here (opens in a new tab)

John Corcoran AM
Committee Chairperson

John Cain
Committee Member | Chair Investment Committee

Patricia Kelly
Committee Member | Chair Remuneration and Appointments Committee

Helen Thornton
Committee Member | Chair Audit and Risk Committee

Catriona Lowe
Committee Member

Adrian Finanzio SC
Committee Member

Danny Barlow
Committee Member

Organisational Structure

Governance

LPLC provides professional indemnity insurance and risk management services for law practices.

The Committee:

  • oversees and monitors the affairs of LPLC
  • determines the terms of and submits policies of professional indemnity insurance for legal practitioners in Victoria for approval by the Victorian Legal Services Board
  • oversees the investment of the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund (the ‘Fund’)
  • develops policy relating to national practice issues and professional indemnity insurance
  • recommends the implementation of effective risk management for legal practitioners.

The Audit and Risk Committee comprised Helen Thornton (Chair), Patricia Kelly, Danny Barlow and Adrian Finanzio SC.

The Audit and Risk Committee oversees LPLC’s:

  • financial reporting
  • financial and budgeting procedures
  • actuarial and reserving functions
  • internal risk and control environment
  • corporate governance and regulatory compliance
  • internal and external audits.

The Investment Committee comprised John Cain (Chair), John Corcoran AM and Catriona Lowe.

The Investment Committee:

  • makes recommendations to LPLC on benchmarks, asset classes and asset allocation
  • monitors the Fund’s investment strategies and performance
  • makes recommendations to the Committee on the appointment of fund managers and investment advisers.

The Remuneration and Appointments Committee comprised Patricia Kelly (Chair), John Corcoran AM and Helen Thornton.

The Remuneration and Appointments Committee:

  • advises and makes recommendations to LPLC in relation to nominations to the Legal Services Board for appointment of the Chair and Committee members
  • advises and makes recommendations to LPLC in relation to the appointment, remuneration and performance review of the CEO
  • oversees executive succession planning, staff remuneration and people matters.

Executive management team

Justin Toohey
Chief Executive Officer
Justin was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in 2018, having previously served as Deputy CEO and Head of Claims at LPLC since 2005.
Prior to joining LPLC, Justin’s career spanned five years in a senior executive position with the Institute of Architects’ professional indemnity scheme and 15 years in private legal practice; including time as a partner with Tress Cocks & Maddox where he specialised in professional indemnity litigation as a panel solicitor to LPLC.

Martin Dohnt
Chief Financial Officer
Martin joined the Committee as Chief Financial Officer in January 2014. Martin manages LPLC’s accounting, finance and payroll functions. Prior to commencing at LPLC, Martin worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years holding senior finance management positions at Defence Force Credit Union and ASG Friendly Society.

Bernadette Mallia
Corporate Services Manager
After working in the property/leasing department of several city law firms, Bernadette joined the Committee in 1988. In addition to supervising the annual renewal of insurance and overseeing the maintenance of the LPLC database, Bernadette is the reference point for insured practitioners, LPLC service providers and other stakeholders.

Jodie Potts
Head of Claims
Jodie joined LPLC in 2018 as Head of Claims.
Prior to joining LPLC in January 2018 Jodie was a partner in the professional indemnity team of Moray & Agnew, Melbourne, having joined that firm in 2006 from Herbert Geer & Rundle. Jodie is an experienced insurance litigator with strong property and commercial dispute resolution experience having worked for Australian and international insurers across a wide range of business classes.

Heather Hibberd
Chief Risk Manager
Heather was appointed Chief Risk Manager in 2010 having previously served as a risk manager with LPLC since 2001.
Prior to joining LPLC Heather was an insurance litigation solicitor for eight years with Minter Ellison, specialising in professional indemnity claims defending legal practitioners and hospitals.

Tracey Johnston
Digital Communications Manager
Tracey joined LPLC in October 2018 and has worked as a communications professional for 18 years in the not-for-profit sector with a focus on health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives. With a specialty in online communications, she is responsible for the website, social media and all digital communications produced by LPLC.

Supplementary Information

Legislation administered by the Committee

The Legal Practice Act 1996 — 1 July 2005 to 11 December 2005.
The Legal Profession Act 2004 — 12 December 2005 to 30 June 2015.
The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 — 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018.

Financial management regulations

The information specified in the Financial Management Regulations has been prepared and is available on request to the Attorney-General, Members of Parliament and the public.

Protected Disclosures

LPLC is committed to the objectives of the Protected Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic).

LPLC recognises the value of transparency and accountability and will support the making of any disclosures pursuant to the guidelines set out in the Protected Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic).

LPLC’s Protected Disclosures Statement containing information about the Protected Disclosures Act, who can make a protected disclosure, and the procedure for making a protected disclosure is available on LPLC’s website or at LPLC’s office on request.

Compliance with the Building Act 1993 (Vic)

LPLC does not own any buildings and consequently is exempt from notifying its compliance with the building and maintenance provisions of the Building Act 1993 (Vic).

Categories of documents held  by LPLC

  • applications by legal practitioners for insurance
  • assessment notices
  • notifications by legal practitioners of claims or circumstances likely to give rise to claims
  • practitioner enquiries
  • board papers and minutes for LPLC and LPLC sub committees
  • management records
  • reinsurance records
  • administration records
  • finance, accounting and investment records
  • risk and compliance records
  • library material.

Freedom of information

 LPLC received no requests pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) for the reporting period.

Occupational health and safety

 LPLC continued its commitment to OH&S compliance during the reporting period and undertook a range of initiatives to support staff health, safety and wellbeing including ergonomic assessments, flu shots, massage and mindfulness activities. Three staff members are trained as first aid officers.

All issues relating to safe workplace practices are considered and reported at staff meetings.

There were no reported OH&S-related incidents in the reporting year (previous year, nil)

Workforce data

The Committee undertakes an annual performance appraisal and salary review of the CEO. The CEO and Executive Managers conduct annual performance reviews of their respective direct reports.

Internal staff training sessions were held regularly throughout the year addressing a variety of topics including workplace culture, cyber security awareness, enterprise risk management awareness, complaints management, cultural awareness and appropriate workplace behaviours.  Staff members also attended a variety of external courses and conferences.

Staff members can raise grievances or other issues privately with the CEO, Corporate Services Manager or LPLC external HR consultant at any time. Alternatively, matters can be raised with a member of the Committee.

Environmental issues

LPLC has an environmental management plan (EMP) which assists to manage the environmental impact of day to day business activities.

Monitoring the EMP has been allocated to a team within the office.

The plan covers the 2018–2019 reporting year.

Energy consumption

LPLC will continue with its energy saving initiatives such as using natural light in offices where possible, shutting down computers and printers after hours and only having lights on in the parts of the office where necessary. LPLC again made a commitment to purchase no less than 20 per cent green power for office requirements.

Total energy usage was approximately 58,716 kWh compared to 58,480 kWh in 2017–2018 and the energy used per square metre of office area was 83.28 kWh compared to 82.95 kWh in 2017–2018.  kWh of energy used per FTE was 3262.

The 2019–2020 target is to reduce energy usage by at least 10 per cent.

Waste generation

LPLC continues to monitor the levels of waste generated by its operations and staff. Building management continue to provide a commingled recycling service which has assisted greatly in reducing the waste generated by LPLC being sent to landfill.

LPLC continues to reduce waste generation through recycling of all computer components, CDs, DVDs, used printer cartridges, old dictating equipment, old mobile phones, old landline phones and any other computer peripherals by using a not for profit recycling service, Byte Back.

LPLC continued to recycle close to 90 per cent of its waste for the reporting period.

Paper consumption

LPLC adheres to policies that include purchasing only printers that are capable of double-sided copying, defaulting all communal printers to double sided and using electronic documents instead of paper whenever possible.

A very high percentage of LPLC’s paper and cardboard waste is recycled through a secure paper recycling contractor. LPLC recycled approximately 1.2 tonnes of paper in the reporting period which contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 1.6 tonnes of carbon over 2018–2019.

Units of paper used per FTE (A4 reams/ FTE) was approximately 15.66 compared to 23.56 in the previous reporting period.

The target for the 2019–2020 year is to reduce the paper consumption by at least 10 per cent compared with 2018–2019.

Transport

LPLC does not operate a fleet of vehicles for business use and has a travel policy which includes the purchase of carbon credits for all air travel undertaken.

Competition policy

Until 11 December 2005, section 227A of the Legal Practice Act provided:

‘For the purposes of the Trade Practices Act 1974 of the Commonwealth and Competition Code, the entering into and performance of a contract of professional indemnity insurance by a person or firm and the Liability Committee under sections 224, 225, 226 or 227 is authorised by this Act.’

From 12 December 2005 until 30 June 2015, section 3.5.5 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 provided:

‘For the purposes of the Trade Practices Act 1974 of the Commonwealth and Competition Code, the entering into and performance of a contract of professional indemnity insurance by a law practice and the Liability Committee under this Part is authorised by this Act.’

From 1 July 2015 section 119 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 provides:

‘For the purposes of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 of the Commonwealth and Competition Code, the entering into and performance of a contract of professional indemnity insurance by a law practice and the Liability Committee is authorised by this Act’.

Consultants

Consultants each year provide specialist advice to assist with decision making and risk management programs. During 2018–2019 total consultancy expenditure as defined by the Financial Management Act 1994 (Vic) was approximately $439,282.

Finity Consulting Pty Ltd — actuaries
During the reporting year Finity Consulting was engaged to review LPLC’s premium model, to provide pricing advice and to review LPLC’s half-yearly valuation of outstanding liabilities. Expenditure for the reporting period was $92,933. Finity Consulting has been retained again for the 2019–2020 period.

Cumpston Sarjeant — actuaries
During the reporting year LPLC obtained half-yearly valuation reports of outstanding liabilities and other ad hoc actuarial advice from Cumpston Sarjeant. The consulting fee paid to this firm for the reporting period was $48,708. Cumpston Sarjeant has been retained again for the 2019–2020 reporting period.

Willis Towers Watson — investment advisers
During the year Willis Towers Watson continued to be engaged as LPLC’s investment advisers for which consulting fees of $297,641 were paid.

Declarations of pecuniary interests

Declarations of pecuniary interests have been duly completed by Committee members and relevant staff.

Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee Financial Management Compliance Attestation Statement


I, John Corcoran AM, on behalf of the Responsible Body, certify that the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee has complied with the applicable Standing Directions 2018 under the Financial Management Act 1994 and Instructions.