The Hon. Warren Truss, MP
The Hon. Warren Truss, MP

Joint Media Release

26 October 2007

Minister for Trade, Warren Truss
Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock

Big win for Australian Lawyers

The decision by the Delaware Supreme Court to allow Australian lawyers to practise Australian and foreign law in its jurisdiction for the first time has been welcomed by the Australian Government.

Delaware has not previously allowed foreign lawyers, including lawyers from Australia, to offer foreign legal services in the State. The decision by the Delaware Supreme Court to adopt a Foreign Legal Consultant (FLC) Rule now makes this possible. The Court also amended existing rules to make possible the temporary practise of foreign law (‘Fly-in, Fly-out’) without needing to register.

Delaware is the legal home to over half a million corporate entities. It is the centre of corporate law in the United States and is internationally recognised for its contribution to jurisprudence.

Delaware’s decision was the result of joint representations by the Law Council of Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General’s Department. These representations were part of a joint initiative to improve access for Australian lawyers to the US market under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement Working Group on Professional Services.

Australia continues to work with US States and the American Bar Association to have Australian law degrees recognised for the purpose of sitting bar exams and being admitted to practise US law.

Delaware Chief Justice Myron Steele saw the benefits of Australia’s proposal for Delaware. Chief Justice Steele is a key supporter of Australia’s efforts to promote international professional mobility. He played a central role in the US Conference of Chief Justices’ decision in February 2007 to adopt a resolution encouraging US States and Territories to facilitate admission for Australian lawyers.

Twenty four US States now have FLC Rules. Most of these States have FLC rules based on the American Bar Association model FLC Rule. This model rule requires applicants to meet a minimum experience requirement, establish a commercial presence and to have references from an Australian High Court Judge or Executive Member of an Australian Admitting Authority. Australia sought, and won, from Delaware an FLC rule that excludes these onerous requirements. 

Delaware’s decision is good news for Australian lawyers and good new for Delaware. This decision lays the ground work for Australia to further engage with other US States and Territories to improve access for Australian lawyers to the vast US legal services market.

Media inquries: Mr Truss’s office - 02 6277 7420      Mr Ruddock's office - 02 6277 7300

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