Fund call from Law Society

TASMANIA'S Law Society has called for the legal profession to have the final say over spending from the Solicitors Guarantee Fund, after allegations that a union misspent a grant made from the fund. 

The fund is designed to compensate consumers who are ripped off by a legal practitioner, but if it exceeds $3.5 million, the state's attorney-general can make grants to community legal centres or law advisory bodies. 

Tasmanian Law Society president Anthony Mihal yesterday said that process should be administered by the Law Foundation, rather than left solely up to the attorney-general.  

``I'm not saying it's been politicised but there might be a risk of that in the future,'' Mr Mihal said. 

Last week  Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin ordered an investigation into allegations that Unions Tasmania misspent a $190,000 grant approved by her predecessor that was intended to help injured workers.

The union has denied the claims and is understood not to have spent the money yet. 

Dr Goodwin has halted any distribution of grants from the fund until the Justice Department provides advice on ways to better track how the money is spent. 

Mr Mihal said: ``The benefit of having the Law Foundation being the body to distribute the excess is that they could provide that oversight role.''

About $3 million was handed out from the Solicitors' Guarantee Fund by former attorney-general Brian Wightman in 2013 for 26   projects.  

The purpose of the grants is to support public interest law or legal education. 

The Law Society will meet   Dr Goodwin today. 

Tasmanian Law Society president Anthony Mihal

Tasmanian Law Society president Anthony Mihal

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