APLA Limited v Legal Services Commissioner (NSW) [2005] HCA 44 | 1 September 2005

ON 1 SEPTEMBER 2005, the High Court of Australia delivered APLA Limited v Legal Services Commissioner (NSW) [2005] HCA 44; 224 CLR 322; 79 ALJR 1620; 219 ALR 403 (1 September 2005).

The plaintiffs brought proceedings challenging the constitutional validity of regulations made under Part 14 of the Legal Profession Act 1987 (NSW) banning lawyers from advertising their services for personal injury claims.

Clause 139 provided:

“(1) A barrister or solicitor must not publish or cause or permit to be published an advertisement that includes any reference to or depiction of any of the following:

(a) personal injury,

(b) any circumstance in which personal injury might occur, or any activity, event or circumstance that suggests or could suggest the possibility of personal injury, or any connection to or association with personal injury or a cause of personal injury,

(c) a personal injury legal service (that is, any legal service that relates to recovery of money, or any entitlement to recover money, in respect of personal injury).

Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units.

(2) A contravention of this clause by a barrister or solicitor is declared to be professional misconduct.”

The plaintiffs argued that the regulations infringe various provisions of the Constitution including the guarantee of freedom of communication on political matters, free trade and the rule of law.

The High Court ruled that the regulations are constitutionally valid.

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