Labour lawyers offer expanded coverage

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Labour lawyers offer expanded coverage

Changes made by the Court Government to workers’ compensation laws some years ago have helped a consortium of labour lawyers move from workers’ compensation cover to offering legal services to all Australians on an extended range of matters – including criminal and family law – for $4 a week.

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Changes made by the Court Government to workers’ compensation laws some years ago have helped a consortium of labour lawyers move from workers’ compensation cover to offering legal services to all Australians on an extended range of matters – including criminal and family law – for $4 a week.

 

Bob Whyburn, part of the People Law group of labour law firms around Australia, told WorkplaceInfo the group had registered a prospectus for ‘AussieCover’ with the Australian Securities Investment Commission. It will list on the Australian Stock Exchange in two weeks in an attempt to raise the $5million necessary to guarantee the scheme.

Whyburn, whose firm represents the construction, mining and telecommunications unions among others, said the idea originally came from legal firm Dwyer Durack, the Western Australian office of the People Law group.

Changes to workers’ comp laws under the Court Government restricted legal representation and gave lawyers the idea that they could give the service to members through unions. The lawyers teamed up with unions who charged a compulsory extra $52 a year, which they paid to Dwyer Durack as a retainer so the firm would represent members on workers’ compensation.

Dwyer Durack and its interstate partners who formed the People Law firms decided to expand the idea into other services, to give affordable legal services to members.

By paying a retainer of $52 per member to the People Law firms, AussieCover plans to offer free or reduced-rate legal services and advice on:

  • unfair dismissal advice and representation;
  • workers’ compensation;
  • family law;
  • conveyancing; and
  • criminal law.

The latter are what Whyburn called the ‘big three’: items people were likely to need advice and representation on throughout their lives, outside work.

Whyburn said he was talking with various unions about the possibility for teaming up and tailoring services to their members. While he admitted that in a climate of declining union membership, they may fear People Law taking away their members, Whyburn said Aussie Cover was dealing with a much wider range of issues than employment law alone.

He said until now, Australia had not been an especially litigious country, unlike America (where 42% of the population have legal service plans), and Europe (up to 80%). But it was moving in that direction, and AussieCover planned to give them security and reassurance by saying ‘I’ve got a lawyer’. The prospectus estimates its potential market at 15% of the adult population.

A prospectus and full details are available on the AussieCover website. The scheme will be rolled out in all states in the new year.

 

 

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