Legal representation in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
The Industrial Relations Act 2016 (IR Act) commenced on 1 March 2017. Similar to the now repealed Industrial Relations Act 1999, the IR Act limits the circumstances where a party may be represented by a lawyer in proceedings before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (the QIRC).
Section 530 of the IR Act regulates the circumstances in which a lawyer may appear in proceedings in the QIRC. However, unlike the former Industrial Relations Act 1999, the IR Act contains a new (and significant) exemption, namely s 530(5)(a) of the IR Act provides that a party or person is taken not to be represented by a lawyer, if the lawyer is an employee or officer of the party or person.
Please find attached a recent Industrial Court decision handed down on 4 October 2018 which confirms that in circumstances where the State of Queensland is the party to the proceedings in the QIRC, the effect of s 530(5)(a) of the Act is to allow a lawyer employed by Crown Law (being an employee of the State) to act as the legal representative.
The Industrial Court’s decision has significant public sector-wide implications, and means that lawyers employed by the State of Queensland (including those lawyers employed within Crown Law) avoid the limitations on representation which may otherwise apply under s 530 of the IR Act. Crown Law lawyers can therefore appear by way of right (and do not need the relevant consent or leave that would be required by lawyers from external law firms) on behalf of the State in proceedings in the QIRC.