LPLC Annual Report 2015/16

28 October, 2016
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From the Chair

2016 is a significant milestone for LPLC. It is the thirtieth anniversary of LPLC commencing its first insurance year on 1 January 1986.

The organisation, which was then known as the SLC (Solicitors’ Liability Committee), began with a fund of $5.9M and insured approximately 6,000 practitioners. It now insures over 2,000 barristers and 15,500 solicitor practitioners with a fund of $220M.

LPLC was the first self-insurance model to be adopted among the Australian jurisdictions and was one of the first in the English common law world. LPLC is and remains, the only insurance scheme administered by a statutory authority, a model which serves consumers and the profession well.

Over the 30-year period, LPLC has paid $486M in claims and costs as well as managed 13,719 claims and notifications in respect of solicitor practitioners.

During that time there were a number of significant events impacting LPLC which tested its enduring model − the stock market crash of 1987, the severe decline in the property market in the early 1990s, the failure of HIH in 2001, 9/11 with the subsequent disruption to insurance markets and the Global Financial Crisis.

Since 1993, LPLC has invested in developing risk management services to the profession for the benefit of not only the insured practitioners, but for consumers in improving the quality of practice and minimising risk. There has been a steady decline in the number of claims and notifications over the last 23 years when measured against the number of insured practitioners.

2016 is another milestone for LPLC, being 10 years since it began to insure barristers. During those 10 years LPLC has paid $7.8M in respect of 350 claims and notifications.

While I am a relatively recent arrival on the LPLC, my past involvement on the LIV Council, the Law Council of Australia and the Legal Services Board meant I have been engaged with LPLC for much of its 30-year history.

This has been a year of change on the Committee. Following a long tenure as the consumer representative on the Committee, Mary Radisich retired on 30 June 2015 and was replaced by Catriona Lowe on 1 July 2015.

During the reporting period, Geoff Rees retired as both Chairman and as a Committee Member after joining both the LPLC and the LPLC Investment Committee in 2007. Geoff began his term as Chairman in July 2011.

After Geoff’s retirement John Cain was appointed. He also has past involvement with LPLC from his time as CEO of the LIV.

Peter Fox QC also retired during the reporting period and Adrian Finanzio SC was appointed on 1 January 2016 as the barrister representative.

I thank Mary, Geoff and Peter for their longstanding service to LPLC and welcome Catriona, John and Adrian.

I thank my fellow Committee Members, the CEO Miranda Milne and her team at LPLC for their work which is performed with such enthusiasm.

John Corcoran
Chair

From the CEO

As insurer to barristers and solicitors, LPLC’s activities comprise of claims management, risk management and investment.

During the reporting year, 437 claims and notifications in relation to solicitors were resolved at a cost of $35.3M, including defence costs.

The year did see considerable improvement in the cost of claims from prior insurance years.

In relation to barristers, 26 claims and notifications were resolved at a cost of $0.8M including defence costs.

There was a lower than usual return on investment of 2.74 per cent on the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund. However, over the last five years, LPLC has averaged a return of 6.86 per cent. Investment markets have cooled and interest rates have fallen.

It is likely that investment returns into the future will be more modest than they have been in the more recent past.

There were a number of new and additional initiatives taken in risk management – namely, a series of seminars called the Metro held in three Melbourne suburbs. This was an enhancement to our existing city and regional seminar series.

In addition, there were dedicated seminars for verification of identity of clients to assist practitioners understand their obligations.

LPLC also recognised the need to assist practitioners starting their own firms with a series of workshops called Building Solid Foundations, giving practitioners access to an experienced manager.

There has been record attendance of 1,500 practitioners at LPLC risk management events while LPLC presenters spoke at 44 external engagements about claims prevention.

This has been a very productive year for the Committee, and I would like to thank the Chairman, John Corcoran, for his support. I also thank the dedicated LPLC staff for their diligence and hard work.

Miranda Milne
Chief Executive Officer

30 Years Insuring Legal Practitioners

Claims – Solicitors

The 2015/16 year saw almost the same number of claims and notifications which were received in the previous insurance year.

There were 448 claims and notifications, with an estimated value of $35.38M. This shows a return to a more typical year after the claims spike of the 2013/14 year.

The incidence of claims remains stable after what has been a decline when measured against the population of solicitors insured by LPLC.

NUMBER OF CLAIMS AND NOTIFICATIONS PER THOUSAND INSURED SOLICITORS

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SOLICITORS: COST OF PAID AND UNPAID CLAIMS 2010–2016 ($M)

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SOLICITORS: NUMBER OF OPEN AND CLOSED FILES 2010–2016

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SOLICITORS: PERCENTAGE NUMBER OF CLAIMS BY AREA OF PRACTICE 2015/16

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SOLICITORS: PERCENTAGE COST OF CLAIMS BY AREA OF PRACTICE 2015/16

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There was above average exposure in commercial matters, personal injury litigation and wills and estates but typically the claims were dominated by conveyancing and commercial matters.

In property and conveyancing matters there was:

  • inadequate pre-contractual advice
  • insufficient advice in relation to stamp duty and GST
  • intra family transfer disputes
  • contracts becoming unconditional when they should not have.

In the commercial area claims arose out of:

  • failure to advise on unusual andcomplex terms
  • drafting errors and advice about guarantees
  • incorrect stamp duty advice
  • failure to advise on regulatory issues when clients were establishing businesses.

In the area of wills and estates, there was failure to:

  • issue Part IV claims in time
  • advise about the consequences of holding property as joint tenants.

In the mortgage area there was:

  • inadequate security
  • poorly documented finance transactions
  • some mortgage fraud.

LPLC staff see many of the same errors and omissions which occur each year, albeit by different practitioners. Risk management information is widely disseminated about errors and their underlying causes. No doubt, this has saved many practitioners from making these mistakes but the repetitive nature of most errors and omissions continues.

Claims – Barristers

Ten years of insuring barristers

In July 2015 LPLC celebrated its tenth anniversary as sole insurer to Victorian barristers. A low-key celebratory function was held at the Essoign Club in September 2015 to mark this important occasion and to reflect on what has been a beneficial relationship for practitioners and LPLC alike. LPLC has delivered on its 2005 goals of providing barristers with high quality insurance cover and stable premiums, while also building barristers equity in the fund that was established 20 years earlier for solicitor practitioners.

In 2005 the average premium per barrister practitioner was $1,947. This has steadily declined over the years and for the 2015/16 year was just $910. Cover provided to barristers has also increased from $1.5M per claim to $2M per claim in 2007 and continues to be written on a full civil liability basis with unlimited reinstatements. All barristers, whether they have been appointed to the bench, retired or died, have access to automatic and free run-off cover.

These achievements are the product of a number of factors including LPLC’s expert claims handling capability as well as its statutory business model.

BARRISTERS: COST OF PAID AND UNPAID CLAIMS 2010–2016 ($M)

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BARRISTERS: NUMBER OF OPEN AND CLOSED FILES 2010–2016

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However, the most important influence on the reduction in premiums over the years has been the strong and consistent claims performance from barristers. That in turn reflects the care and attention paid to the management of professional risk by barristers generally, a strong commitment to the maintenance of high ethical standards, testing barriers to entry through the Reader’s Program, the maintenance of a collegiate environment in shared chambers and a vibrant continuing professional development program.

LPLC adopts a conservative approach to claims reserving but because relatively few matters become formal claims, there is a consequent risk of volatility if a number of large claims are concentrated in one policy year. LPLC’s position as sole insurer enables us to manage the effects of any concentration risk over time. This is in contrast to the approach adopted by market-based insurers where financial results are assessed on a short term horizon.

The claims experience for barristers over the past six years has been relatively stable in both claims frequency and cost, as can be seen from the accompanying charts.

2015/16

LPLC collected net premium for 2015/16 of $1.867M from 2,051 barrister practitioners. Premium rates were unchanged from 2014/15, with the minor difference in premiums attributable to increased practitioner numbers and varied gross
fee income declarations.

The majority of barristers renewed their insurance through the LPLC’s online facility, making the process simple and smooth. The Committee extends its thanks to the Victorian Bar office staff for their support with the distribution of declarations and policy material as well as their assistance with fielding enquiries from practitioners or referring them to LPLC.

There were 39 claims and notifications in the reporting year with an incurred value of $1.68M. This was a substantial decline from the number and cost of claims in the 2014/15 year where 55 matters were reported with an incurred cost of $3.132M, but in line with longer term rates of claims frequency and cost.

As with most prior years, the major themes emerging in claims reported during 2015/16 were:

  • problems arising from settlement of litigation including:
    • revisited settlement of personal injury matters as a result of clients later expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome achieved
    • clients alleging the use by counsel of unfair pressure to settle
    • drafting errors in settlement documents prepared under time pressure, in particular the unintended release of other claims
    • counsel downgrading advice on prospects of success at the door of the court
  • claims for Civil Procedure Act relief or other personal costs orders against counsel (including claims initiated by the court of its own motion) arising from:
    • unsuccessful interlocutory court applications
    • alleged misconduct in the course of proceedings
    • claims or defences lacking a proper basis
  • negligent assessment of prospects of success of cases arising from wrong legal advice about underlying issues – often leading to claims that litigation costs were unnecessarily incurred and prompting fee disputes
  • dissatisfied and persistent litigants (often self-represented) who take exception to the conduct of cases by opposing counsel and make misconceived allegations about their behaviour. This year a higher number of these were reported to arise from the conduct of criminal proceedings
  • alleged breaches of confidential information arising from conflicts of interest or privacy through loss of documents.

More than 75 per cent (by cost) of claims and notifications arose from commercial litigation or personal injury cases. Experienced junior counsel of 15+ years standing again accounted for the largest proportion of claims by both number and cost.

LPLC’s experienced claims solicitors provide a confidential telephone service for barristers with specific queries about their exposure to a claim for professional liability, as well as any queries that arise throughout the year relating to the coverage provided by the policy. This service continues to be well utilised, particularly by younger practitioners.

LPLC’s website includes a number of articles, seminar papers and risk bulletins providing a handy source of reference material for both young and old members of the Bar, relating to professional liability risks they face in their everyday practice.

LPLC liaised with the Bar on a variety of insurance and risk management issues including changes to the policy wording and any emerging risk issues relating to barristers’ practice of law. LPLC also provided support to enable the Bar to comply with its reporting obligations to the Professional Standards Council.

During the year LPLC delivered two seminars to Readers on the professional indemnity insurance and management of risk within their practices.

BARRISTERS: PERCENTAGE NUMBER OF CLAIMS AND NOTIFICATIONS BY AREA OF PRACTICE 2015/16

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BARRISTERS: PERCENTAGE COST OF CLAIMS AND NOTIFICATIONS BY AREA OF PRACTICE 2015/16

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Risk Management

To assist practitioners avoid risks and minimise their exposure to claims the LPLC Risk Management team provided a range of educational resources and forums as well as mitigating strategies on claims prevention.

Summary of 2015/16

  • 2015 Risk Management Intensive: 3 workshops | 582 attendees
  • 2015 and 2016 Cost estimates and the new uniform law workshops (new): 4 workshops | 263 attendees
  • 2015 Metro Series | Dandenong, Ringwood, Moonee Ponds (new): 3 workshops | 168 attendees
  • 2016 VOI – why, when, how (new): 3 sessions | 205 attendees
  • 2016 Regional Risk Management Tour: 11 regional locations | 266 attendees
  • Building Solid Foundations workshops (new): 2 workshops | 16 attendees
  • External speaking engagements: 44
  • Weekly risk management blogs: 46 | 1,076 subscribers
  • In Check newsletters: 4
  • Law Institute Journal articles: 11
  • Bulletins: 1
  • Practice risk guides: 1
  • Training video and workbook: 1
  • Checklists: 2 new and 1 revised
  • At risk firms project: 7 firms visited and 10 firms interviewed
  • New firms contacted with starter kit: 241
  • GST hotline enquiries: 234
  • Risk Management practitioner telephone and email enquiries: 1,020

Seminars

2015 Risk Management Intensive

The Risk Management Intensive workshops were held in Melbourne in late July and early August. The presenters included LPLC and industry experts. The same program was conducted on three separate days to maximise the opportunity for practitioners to attend.

The topics covered were:

  • Personal cost orders – how and why
  • Powers of Attorney – old mistakes and new laws
  • Outperforming with client experience – the risks and rewards
  • Delegation skills
  • Drafting mistakes – what the claims tell us
  • Risk management issues in e-conveyancing

The sessions were recorded and a complimentary DVD sent to those who attended. The DVD is also available for purchase from the LPLC website.

2015 and 2016 Cost estimates and the new uniform law workshops

In October 2015 and February 2016 four half-day workshops were held to look at some of the changes to costing bought in by the new uniform law as well as how to scope, plan and price legal work more accurately.

The workshops were presented by Liz Harris of Harris Cost Lawyers and were designed to help practitioners identify the risks and manage their clients’ expectations more effectively.

2015 Metro Series

The Metro Series was a new event held in Dandenong, Ringwood and Moonee Ponds in November. The LPLC risk managers presented at the half-day seminars on risk management for metropolitan Victorian lawyers. The same program was conducted at the three locations.

The topics covered were:

  • Litigation with the lot
  • Check mate: property lawyers beware!
  • Keeping client interest in focus.

2016 VOI workshops

In March LPLC held three short workshops to assist practitioners understand their obligations to identify clients. The workshops looked at the practical process to identify clients face to face as well as guided practitioners through some trouble areas they may encounter. A suite of documents including checklists for managing verification of identity was given to attendees.

2016 Regional Risk Management Tour

Half-day seminars were held in 11 regional centres across Victoria in April and May. The presentations were given by the LPLC risk managers and were tailored to the specific needs of regional practitioners.

The topics were:

  • Old mistakes and new laws: VOI and other conveyancing issues
  • Trouble with family law
  • Professional responsibility in court and settlement negotiations.

The seminars were held in:

  • Bairnsdale
  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Geelong
  • Horsham
  • Mildura
  • Mt Eliza
  • Shepparton
  • Traralgon
  • Wangaratta

Building Solid Foundations workshops

Building Solid Foundations is a new series of workshops tailored to practitioners establishing new firms. The small group workshops held at the LPLC office gave practitioners access to an experienced manager to ask questions, share information and consider fundamental basics for a solid legal practice structure.

External speaking engagements

Over the 2015/16 year LPLC experts attended 44 external speaking engagements delivering presentations on wide-ranging topics from risk management for family lawyers and foreign residents CGT withholding tax to risk management and the Personal Property Securities Act.

LPLC staff spoke at the following locations/events:

  • The College of Law – 6
  • Leo Cussen Institute – 3
  • Law Institute of Victoria-related – 6
  • Law firms – 21
  • other legal forums and interest groups – 8.

Locations LPLC seminar held in 2015/16

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Publications

Blogs

LPLC’s weekly risk management blog discussed current or recurring risk management themes and was emailed directly to over 1,000 subscribers as well as being posted on the LPLC website. The blogs covered topics ranging from limitation periods and advising self-managed superannuation funds to the new Power of Attorney Act and helpful checklists.

In Check

LPLC’s quarterly online newsletter, In Check, covered topics to assist practitioners stay informed about important developments affecting their professional risk. Four issues were published in 2015/16.

The newsletter covered a range of subjects including:

  • changes to the foreign investment framework
  • State Revenue Office’s purchaser statement updated
  • the importance of good working relationships within the profession.

Law Institute Journal articles

LPLC published 11 articles in the Law Institute Journal in 2015/16. The articles provided readers with in-depth risk management advice for all aspects of legal practice.

The topics included:

  • Old building claims and new building laws
  • Strategic thinking reduces risk
  • Wills and super claims.

Bulletins

During the reporting year LPLC published one bulletin titled 1 July new CGT withholding payments for real property sales of $2M or more to alert practitioners of the new requirements for contracts of sale for real estate worth $2M or more.

Other key points in the bulletin included that:

  • all purchasers of such real estate must withhold 10 per cent of the purchase price unless they are given a clearance certificate by the vendor
  • vendors of such property who are not foreign residents need to apply for a clearance certificate as soon as possible
  • real estate includes vacant land, residential and commercial property – no exceptions.

Practice risk guides

LPLC’s practice risk guides are a series of booklets that identify and explain key risks for specific areas of practice. In 2015/16 LPLC published one new guide Know your limits that lists the limitation periods that have caught practitioners out in recent years. It also gives some claims examples of how the mistakes have occurred and the lessons that can be learnt from those mistakes.

Training video and workbook

During 2015/16 LPLC produced a new 14-minute training video The new normal and accompanying workbook. It explores client relationship and retainer management as well as the importance of comprehensive documentation of all aspects of the matter in the context of a long time and demanding commercial client.

Checklists

During the financial year LPLC published two new checklists on its website as well as revising the Witnessing an Enduring Power of Attorney checklist.

The new checklists were:

  • Delegation/supervision instruction sheet
  • Tips for effective supervision.

LPLC website

LPLC launched a new website in March 2016 making it easier for practitioners to access information when they visit the website as well as renew their insurance online.

Firm projects

At risk firm reviews

During 2015/16 LPLC interviewed or visited firms of all sizes with significant claims history or concerns to assist them with their risk management strategies.

The aim of this project was to improve the claims experience of these firms by establishing reasons why claims have occurred and implementing steps to prevent claims in the future. The reports were delivered and follow-up visits continue.

Welcome and new starter kit

LPLC continued contacting newly established firms via the new starter kit email and developed a dedicated webpage to complement the email.

Other activities

GST hotline

The GST Hotline is a risk management initiative that has been providing practitioners with expert advice on client-related GST enquiries since 1999. Two hundred and thirty-four GST enquiries were answered during the reporting period.

Informal helpline

Our risk management team continues to answer practitioners’ enquiries and requests for assistance. During this financial year the team responded to approximately 1,020 practitioner telephone and email enquiries.

Investments

The 2015/16 year yielded an investment return of 2.74 per cent, in a year of significant market fluctuation. The fund continued to be invested as a balanced fund, with an average allocation of approximately 60 per cent to growth assets and 40 per cent to defensive assets.

Within its growth portfolio, the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund maintained its relatively low exposure to Australian equities in favour of international equities.

LPLC diversified its defensive asset portfolio during the reporting period, investing in Australian Government Bonds, providing risk mitigation and stable returns to the portfolio.

INVESTMENT RETURN OVER FIVE YEARS

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Willis Towers Watson Australia Pty Ltd were investment advisers to the Committee during the reporting period. Funds were held with the following managers.

Australian equities

  • Vanguard Australian Shares Index Fund

International equities

  • MFS (Massachusetts Financial Services) Investment Fund
  • Real Index Global Share Fund
  • Schroder Emerging Markets Fund
  • Schroder Real Return Fund
  • Vanguard International Shares Index Fund

Property

  • Dexus Wholesale Property Fund

Interest bearing growth alternatives

  • Colonial First State Wholesale Global Credit Income Fund

Cash

  • Cash was invested by way of term deposits with Westpac, ANZ, NAB and the Commonwealth Bank
  • Vanguard Australian Government Bond Index Fund

ASSET ALLOCATION AS AT 30 JUNE 2016

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Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee

Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee Members

Photography of geoffrey rees

Geoffrey Rees
Chair (retired 22 July 2015)

Geoff is a graduate from Melbourne University in law and commerce and is a Law Institute of Victoria accredited business law specialist. He is one of the founding partners of the JRT Partnership.

With broad commercial and litigation experience, Geoff regularly advises and presents to institutions and their controlled entities on operational risk management strategies.

Geoff is an author for Business Law and General Counsel modules of LexisNexis Practical Guidance.

He is the Representative Director of the University of Melbourne on Uniseed, a $60M preseed technology commercialisation fund of three leading Australian universities. The fund invests in research outcomes from the institutes and manages the early stages of the commercialisation of that research.

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John Corcoran
Chair (appointed as Chair 23 July 2015)

John Corcoran is Chairman of the law practice of Russell Kennedy, a position he has held since 2007. He is a member of the board of Mercy Health.

He has been a board member of the Legal Services Board as well as the International Bar Association. He is also a past president of the Law Institute of Victoria and was President of the Law Council of Australia in 2009.

His experience as a commercial lawyer is in the areas of commercial property, retirement and aged care, as well as sale and purchase of business, and securities.

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Peter Fox QC
Committee Member (retired 31 December 2015)

Peter is a practising barrister and a part time Senior Fellow of the Melbourne Law School. He has practised as a commercial lawyer for more than 30 years as a barrister, as a partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, as a senior counsel of the World Bank in Washington DC, and as an overseas service fellow of the Law Council of Australia assigned to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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Patricia Kelly
Committee Member

Tricia has extensive experience in the financial services industry. She worked for Suncorp/AAMI where her roles included Executive General Manager Strategy & Business Development Personal Insurance and General Manager AAMI New South Wales. Prior to that she was a Director and Executive General Manager Life & Superannuation of Norwich Union Life Australia.

Tricia is a past president and honorary life member of the Insurance Institute of Victoria and a former Director of the Australian Insurance Institute. She is currently a non-executive director of ANSVAR Ltd and of RACV Limited and subsidiary companies.

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Helen Thornton
Committee Member

Helen is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience across a wide range of industries including financial services. Helen has extensive experience in governance, audit and risk management and she has held senior leadership roles at Deloittes, KPMG, BHP Ltd and Bluescope Steel Ltd, where she was responsible for the global risk management and insurance program.

Helen has 16 years’ experience as a non-executive director and is an experienced Chair of Audit and Risk Committees. She is currently on the board of Yarra Valley Water, the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board and is an independent member of the Risk & Audit Committee of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Department of Health and Human Services. She is a former board member of Rural Finance Corporation and Big Sky Building Society.

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Catriona Lowe
Committee Member (appointed 1 July 2015)

Catriona is a lawyer with extensive experience in the consumer sector including directorships at the Consumers’ Federation of Australia, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Catriona is also Co-Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Consumer Consultative Committee.

Catriona’s skills and expertise include policy analysis and corporate governance, legal practice management and consumer and competition law as well as dispute resolution and regulation.

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John Cain
Committee Member (appointed 23 July 2015)

John has extensive legal experience in both the public and private sectors. He was the Managing Partner at Herbert Geer from 2011 to 2014 and the consultant overseeing the merger of that firm with Thomson Lawyers to create Thomson Geer. During John’s five years as Victorian Government Solicitor starting in 2006, he oversaw the restructuring of that office as well as the creation of a whole of government legal services panel. While in that position John also represented the Victorian Government and its departments and agencies at the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission. Prior to these roles John was the CEO at the  Law Institute of Victoria (2002-2006) and Managing Partner at Maurice Blackburn from 1991 to 2002.

John is the chair of the Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University,  an advisory board member in the School of Business and Law, Victoria University and an advisory board member of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.

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Adrian Finanzio SC
Committee Member (appointed 1 January 2016)

Adrian signed the Victorian Bar Roll in 1998, was appointed Silk in 2012 and is a leading Victorian barrister practising in the areas of planning and environment, local government, and major projects. He brings to LPLC a broad range of skills arising from the various committees on which he serves, including Barristers Chambers Limited, the Bar Readers Course Committee (as Vice Chair) and the Victorian Planning and Environment Law Association (as Vice President) and as a past member of the Victorian Bar Council.

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Miranda Milne
Executive Member

Miranda was solicitor to the Committee until 1986 and has been CEO since 1996.

Prior to her appointment to the Committee, Miranda engaged in private practice, specialising in litigation and professional indemnity insurance.

Miranda has been a director of the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority and a trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. She was also a member of the executive of the Trinity College Foundation. She sits on the Appeals Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

Organisational Chart

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Governance

LPLC:

  • manages and conducts the affairs of and is responsible for the organisation and business of LPLC
  • provides professional indemnity insurance for law practices
  • determines the terms of and submits policies of professional indemnity insurance for legal practitioners in Victoria for approval by the Legal Services Board
  • oversees investment of the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund
  • develops policy relating to national practice issues and professional indemnity insurance
  • oversees implementation of effective risk management for legal practitioners.

The Audit and Risk Committee comprised of Helen Thornton (Chair), Patricia Kelly and Catriona Lowe.

The Audit and Risk Committee oversees:

  • financial reporting
  • internal risk and control procedures
  • actuarial and reserving functions
  • audit
  • reporting compliance
  • corporate governance
  • conduct of audits, both internal and external
  • finances and budgeting procedures.

The Investment Committee comprised of John Corcoran (Chair until 21 October 2015 then member), John Cain (Chair from 21 October), Peter Fox QC (until 31 December 2015) and Adrian Finanzio SC (from 17 February 2016).

The Investment Committee:

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

The Remuneration and Appointments Committee comprised of Patricia Kelly (Chair), Geoff Rees (until 22 July 2015) and John Corcoran (from 23 July 2015).

The Remuneration and Appointments Committee considers matters pertaining
to appointments and remuneration.

Committee
meetings
Audit and Risk Committee Investment
Committee
Remuneration and Appointments Committee
Eligible Attended Eligible Attended Eligible Attended Eligible Attended
Geoff Rees 1 1 1 1
John Corcoran 8 8 4 3 1 1
Patricia Kelly 6 6 3 3 2 2
Helen Thornton 8 8 4 4
Peter Fox QC 5 5 2 1
Catriona Lowe 8 7 4 4
John Cain 7 7 4 4
Adrian Finanzio SC 3 3  1  1
Miranda Milne 8 8 4 4 2 2

Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee Staff

Miranda Milne
Chief Executive Officer

The Committee began its operations in January of 1986. Miranda was solicitor to the Committee from May 1986 until October 1996 and has been the Chief Executive Officer since that time.

She previously worked in private practice in the area of insurance litigation, particularly professional indemnity insurance.

Justin Toohey
Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Justin joined LPLC in 2005 from IBL Ltd where he was employed for four years as National Claims and Risk Manager with the professional indemnity scheme run by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

Prior to 2001, Justin was a partner with Tress Cocks & Maddox specialising in professional indemnity litigation and was a panel solicitor to the Committee conducting the defence of claims against members of the profession for more than 10 years.

Alex Macmillan
Claims Solicitor

After 17 years in private practice specialising in insurance litigation, Alex joined LPLC on secondment as a partner from Lander & Rogers. She subsequently joined the Committee staff permanently in 1994.

Bronwyn Hine
Claims Solicitor

Bronwyn joined LPLC in 2006 from the Melbourne office of then specialist insurance firm Moray & Agnew.

In the 10 years prior to joining LPLC, Bronwyn worked in private practice in Victoria and South Australia as a professional indemnity defence solicitor.

Josh Clutterbuck
Claims Solicitor

Josh joined LPLC in October 2013 after 11 years as a Victorian solicitor in private practice.

Prior to commencing as a claims solicitor, Josh worked in the General Insurance group at Lander & Rogers as a senior associate defending personal injury claims, liability claims generally and class actions.

Prue Campton
Claims Solicitor

Prue specialised in commercial litigation with Allens for 24 years prior to joining LPLC in 2014. She also practised as a general common law and insurance litigator with Ashurst.

Heather Hibberd
Chief Risk Manager

Heather practised as a solicitor for eight years in insurance litigation at Minter Ellison specialising in professional indemnity litigation before joining the Committee on secondment in 1999. She became a permanent member of staff in 2001.

Matthew Rose
Risk Manager

Matthew joined LPLC after working in risk management roles with the London office of global law firms Clifford Chance and Mayer Brown. Previously, Matthew practised as a senior associate in Minter Ellison’s commercial litigation group.

Phillip Nolan
Risk Manager

Phil joined LPLC in February 2013 and was formerly a principal at SBA Law. He is a member of the Property Law Committee and a member of the Dispute Resolution Committee at the LIV as well as chair of the Estate Agents Council.

He is a Senior Fellow of the University of Melbourne where he lectures in Property Law to postgraduates and Property Environments to undergraduates in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

On 18 November 2011 Phil received the Law Institute of Victoria Certificate of Service Award.

Stephen Bubb
Risk Manager

Stephen joined LPLC in January 2016 after 18 months at the Law Institute of Victoria and over 30 years in private practice. In addition to legal work Stephen is a director at Goulburn Valley Water Corporation and has successfully completed the directors training course at the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His particular focus is legal practice management.

Martin Dohnt
Chief Financial Officer

Martin joined LPLC as Chief Financial Officer in December 2013 and manages the accounting, finance and payroll functions. Martin previously worked in the financial services industry where he held senior finance management positions in credit unions and friendly societies.

Bernadette Mallia
Office Manager

After working in solicitors’ firms both as a personal assistant and a conveyancing clerk, Bernadette joined the Committee in 1988. Bernadette supervises the annual renewal of insurance and oversees maintenance of the Committee’s database.

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 2016.

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.

Whistleblowers policy statement

Policy

LPLC is committed to the objectives of the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 (Vic) (WP Act). LPLC recognises the value of transparency and accountability and will support the making of any disclosures pursuant to the guidelines set out in the WP Act, but subject to section 246 of the Legal Practice Act 1996 (Vic), section 6.6.13 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic) and section 112 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic).

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.
  • Board papers and minutes for LPLC and LPLC sub committees.
  • Management records.
  • Administration records.
  • Accounting records.
  • Library material.

Freedom of information

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

Publications

LPLC continues to publish relevant information on its website www.lplc.com.au.

Occupational health and safety

LPLC continued its commitment to OH&S compliance during the reporting period. Three staff members are trained as first aid officers. All issues relating to safe work place practices are considered and reported at staff meetings. There were no reported OH&S related incidents in the reporting year.

Workforce data

The Committee undertakes an annual performance appraisal and salary review of the CEO. Department managers conduct an annual performance review of their respective direct reports. The CEO conducts an annual performance review of her respective direct reports.

Staff members are able to raise issues privately with the CEO and Office Manager at any time. Alternatively,
matters can be raised with the Committee.

2014/15

Position Male Female Total
Chief Executive Officer 1 1
Chief Financial Officer 1 1
Claims Manager 2 3 5
Risk Manager 2 1 3
Officer Manager 1 1
Communications Manager 1 1
Premiums Manager 1 1
Digital Content and Reporting Manager 1 1
Receptionist/PA/Administration 6 6
Total 5 15 20

2015/16

Position Male Female Total
Chief Executive Officer 1 1
Chief Financial Officer 1 1
Claims Manager 2 3 5
Risk Manager 3 1 4
Officer Manager 1 1
Communications Manager 1 1
Premiums Manager 1 1
Digital Content and Reporting Manager 1 1
Receptionist/PA/Administration 6 6
Total 6 15 21

Environmental issues

In July 2009 LPLC registered with Sustainability Victoria to develop an environmental management plan (EMP). This plan assists LPLC to manage the environmental impact from its day to day business activities.

LPLC staff attended a series of workshops held through Sustainability Victoria’s Resource Smart Government program.

Each area of LPLC’s business was assessed to see where energy was used, resources consumed and how this could be reduced. The task of monitoring this EMP has been allocated to a team within the office.

The plan covers the 2015/16 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 54,582 kWh compared to 60,041,501 kWh in 2014/15 and the energy used per unit of office area 76.87 compared to 85.16 in 2014/15. kWh of energy used per FTE was 3638.

The 2016/17 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 waste generated by LPLC 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

The policies adopted by LPLC in 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 are still policies which are very much adhered to.

A very high percentage of LPLC’s paper and cardboard waste is recycled through a secure paper recycling contractor. LPLC recycled 0.84 tonnes of paper in the reporting period which contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 1.2 tonnes of carbon over 2015/16.

Units of paper used per FTE (A4 reams/FTE) – 2566.

The target for the 2016/17 year is to reduce the paper consumption by at least 10 per cent compared to 2015/16, taking into account the increase in producing risk management material in-house.

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 section 3.5.5 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 provides:

‘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 2015/16 total consultancy expenditure as defined by the Financial Management Act 1994 (Vic) was approximately $415,955.

Taylor Fry – Actuaries

Taylor Fry is LPLC’s actuary. The expenditure for the reporting period was $155,895. Taylor Fry has been retained as LPLC’s actuary for the 2016/17 reporting period.

Cumpston Sarjeant – Actuaries

LPLC also obtains actuarial advice from Cumpston Sarjeant. The consulting fee paid to this firm for the reporting period was $49,214. Cumpston Sarjeant has been retained for the 2016/17 reporting period.

Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson is LPLC’s Fund Administrator. The expenditure for the reporting period was $210,846. Willis Towers Watson has been retained for the 2016/17 reporting period.

Serving the profession

The Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee (LPLC) has been insuring the legal practitioners of Victoria since 1986. To engage in legal practice in Victoria, law practices must take out insurance with LPLC.

Pursuant to the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) LPLC is the insurer to law practices engaging in legal practice in Victoria. It is the successor body to the Solicitors’ Liability Committee.

The Solicitors’ Liability Fund became the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Fund in 1996. The fund is administered by LPLC.

The functions of LPLC are:

  • to provide professional indemnity insurance to law practices
  • to undertake liability under contracts of professional indemnity insurance entered into with law practice
  • any other functions conferred upon it by the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic).

LPLC also provides risk management services to law practices.

LPLC has the power to enter into contracts or arrangements relating to insurance and reinsurance.

LPLC is an independent body which reports to the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance of the State of Victoria.

Contact details

Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee
Level 31, 570 Bourke Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
DX 431
ABN: 45 838 419 536

Telephone: (03) 9672 3800
Facsimile: (03) 9670 5538
Website: www.lplc.com.au