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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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As the peak body representing the interests of in-house lawyers in Australia, ACC Australia advocates on matters of interest to the in-house profession to shape Australia’s legal environment and promote the public's understanding of the law within the business and legal communities. While 2021 has been a challenging year on many fronts, ACC Australia through its state committees and the ACC Australia Advocacy Committee, has had success with several key advocacy initiatives on behalf of its members. 

Key ACC Australia advocacy initiatives:

1) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Ethics Education Guidance

ACC Australia worked closely with the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) in 2020 with its review of CPD. In 2021, the VLSB+C approached ACC Australia to provide input into a proposed CPD Review–Legal Ethics Education Guidance. The VLSB+C sought help to produce guidance to CPD providers on how ethics should be embedded into all the CPD subject matter areas, including using practical, scenario-based learning. ACC Australia made a submission on 22 March 2021, and at the request of the VLSB+C, then provided comments on a draft VLSB+C Guidance paper on Ethics, before it was released to CPD providers. Many of ACC Australia's recommendations were included in the final paper, such as ACC Australia's ideas on embedding legal ethics education in non-Ethics CPD sessions and the use of nuanced, scenario-based learning.

2) Uluru Statement

In support of ACC’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion ACC Australia, with the support of the ACC Global board, wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging the Australian government to support any motion calling for a referendum for the adoption of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Uluru Statement calls for a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Constitution of Australia and a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling between governments at all levels and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  This proposal is in line with the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.  ACC Australia’s letter to the Prime Minister seeking support can be found here.


3) Electronic Signatures and Virtual AGMs

At the height of the COVID -19 pandemic the Australian Government took steps to relax certain laws to facilitate electronic execution and witnessing of documents. ACC Australia via the ACC GC100 advocated for those interim laws to be made permanent to give business the flexibility to operate in the way that works best for their organisation and stakeholders. The GC100 gave its support to technology neutral corporations law, which would deliver greater efficiencies and innovations in respect of executing agreements, minutes, and other corporate documents, through storing records including statutory registers, and calling and holding company meetings. 

On 21 October 2021, the Senate referred the Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Bill 2021 (the bill) to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The Bill makes permanent changes allowing companies and registered schemes to hold hybrid meetings (which give shareholders the option of either attending in person or remotely) and use technology to execute company documents, sign meeting-related documents and provide those documents to their members. In response to the Senate Committee’s request, the ACC GC100 submission supported the Bill’s position including the ability of companies to have the flexibility to hold AGM’s virtually, in person, or as a hybrid meeting. 


4) Definition of ‘related entity’ and ‘corporate legal practitioner’ in the Legal Profession Uniform Law - progression of new ‘control test’ towards Legislation

ACC Australia has been advocating for several years for changes to the Legal Profession Uniform Law (UL) because currently the UL provides that in-house counsel can only give advice to their employer or their employer’s “Related Entities”. ACC Australia has repeatedly submitted that the definition of “Related Entities” is too narrow and does not recognise the modern-day corporate structure across which an in-house counsel is expected to advise. Presently, the only viable option is for in-house counsel to take out a Principal Practising Certificate with the concomitant requirement to also take out professional indemnity insurance. Most recently ACC Australia proposed a “control test” to allow in-house legal counsel to provide legal services to “controlled entities” within the same corporate group, which would enable in-house counsel to fulfil their employer’s legitimate needs for legal services within their corporate structure without breaching any of the provisions of the UL. ACC Australia’s proposed amendments would also negate the onerous requirement to take out a Principal Practising Certificate and insurance.

The Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) advised that ACC Australia’s proposed solution to this advocacy issue has been approved by the relevant Regulators and the relevant Attorneys-General. Further, the VLSB+C in August 2021, advised ACC that drafting work for the legislative change was progressing via the Parliamentary Counsel.

In November 2021, ACC Australia was advised that the Bill has been drafted and is currently with the Victorian Department  for review. If this anticipated Bill is passed, this will be a significant and long-awaited win for ACC Australia, its members, and their employers. 

5) Legal Profession Uniform Law - WA 

Western Australia (WA) has announced it will join Victoria and New South Wales in adoption the Uniform Law, which is expected now to commence in WA on 1 January 2022. The ACC Australia WA committee is reviewing the Application Bill for impacts to in-house counsel in WA. The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2021 (WA) is available here.


ACC Australia welcomes your feedback and suggestions on/contribution to future advocacy initiatives. Get in touch at