foreign law in NSW

A foreign lawyer is an individual who is properly registered or authorised to engage in legal practice in a foreign country by the foreign registration authority for the country (section 6 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (“Uniform Law”). Foreign law means law of a foreign country.

A foreign lawyer is not entitled to practise Australian law. 

Save limited practice without registration (see below), if you wish to practise foreign law in NSW, you must apply for an Australian-Registration Certificate as a foreign lawyer. Upon grant of an Australian-registration certificate, you will be an Australian-registered foreign lawyer and entitled to practise foreign law in New South Wales. Section 62 of the Uniform Law details the requirements for the grant of an Australian-registration certificate. Residence or domicile in Australia is not a prerequisite for the grant or renewal of a certificate, however evidence that you are authorised to practise in the relevant foreign country will be required. 

To register, complete the form - Application for Grant of an Australian Registration Certificate as a Foreign Lawyer.

Limited practice without registration

Section 60 of the Uniform Law permits a foreign lawyer to practise foreign law in NSW without holding a current Australian-registration certificate in one of two circumstances. They are:

(a) during one or more periods that do not in aggregate exceed 90 days in any period of 12 months; or 

(b) during any period during which any restriction under the Migration Act 1958 of the Commonwealth has the effect of limiting the period during which work may be done, or business transacted, by the foreign lawyer in Australia. 

To rely on the limited practice exception, the foreign lawyer must not:

  • maintain an office in this jurisdiction for the purpose of practising foreign law in Australia; or  
  • be a partner, director or other principal of a law practice in NSW; or  
  • have had his or her Australian registration certificate suspended or cancelled.

Scope of practice

Foreign lawyers, whether holders of Australian-registration certificates or engaged in limited practice under section 60 of the Uniform Law, are not entitled to practise Australian law or appear in any court other than on the lawyer's own behalf, or as permitted by the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015, and may provide only the following legal services in Australia: 

  • doing work concerning the law of a foreign country where the lawyer is registered or authorised by the foreign registration authority;  
  • legal services concerning proceedings before bodies other than courts being proceedings in which the body concerned is not required the rules of evidence and where knowledge of the law of the foreign country is deemed essential;  
  • legal services concerning consensual dispute resolution;  
  • legal services of a kind specified in the Uniform Rules.

Trust Money

An Australian registration certificate is subject to a condition that the holder is authorised or not authorised to receive trust money.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Where an Australian registered foreign lawyer is not covered by professional indemnity insurance, he or she must disclose in writing to each client whether or not the lawyer is covered by other professional indemnity insurance and if so covered the nature and extent of that insurance.

Note: If you wish to practise Australian law, you are required to hold an Australian practising certificate. If you are properly registered or authorised to engage in legal practice in a foreign country by the foreign registration authority for that country, and you hold an Australian practising certificate you are not prohibited from also practising the law of that foreign country in NSW. In these circumstances you are not required to register as an Australian registered foreign lawyer as there are no foreign provisions (as defined in s.6 of the Uniform Law that presently apply to an Australian legal practitioner.