- Immigration lawyers are currently the only practitioners in Australia subject to dual regulation.
- The Government has announced it intends to adopt the majority of recommendations in the recent Kendall Inquiry and end dual regulation.
Immigration lawyers are the only legal practitioners in Australia regulated by a second authority – the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) – as well as a state or territory legal professional body. Lawyers practising in immigration are subject to double professional registration fees; overlapping but asymmetrical professional development obligations; and differing disciplinary mechanisms. The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection plans to introduce legislation this year to remove the need for legal practitioners to be registered as migration agents in order to practise immigration law, in response to recommendations contained in the 2014 Independent Review of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority Final Report (‘the Kendall Inquiry’).
While the prospect of a split from OMARA has been welcomed by many in the legal profession, such a move has been recommended but not realised many times before. In this article we examine the long history of debate for and against a breakaway of legal practitioners from OMARA, and the way ahead for immigration law in NSW should the proposed deregulation come into effect.