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Legal Services policy

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Policy is effective from 4 January 2021.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Policy outlines:

  1. the role of the Office of General Counsel as the office responsible for legal compliance and the provision of legal services to the University; and
  2. the role of General Counsel as responsible for communications with law enforcement agencies and external parties regarding the release of corporate information and records.
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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Policy applies where a faculty, institute, administrative division or other area of the University requires legal services in relation to the business and interests of the University (other than applications for patent protection which are managed by Deakin Research). It also applies to legal services for controlled entities unless alternate arrangements are put into place with the approval of the Office of General Counsel.

(4) This Policy applies to all communications with law enforcement agencies and external parties regarding the disclosure or release of corporate information and records, excluding communications expressly set out in clause 12.

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Section 4 - Policy

Legal services

(5) The procurement and provision of legal services in relation to the business and interests of the University is the responsibility of the Office of General Counsel. All requests for legal advice and services are to be made to the Office of General Counsel.

(6) Legal advice provided to the University by the Office of General Counsel is subject to legal professional privilege. Staff must uphold the University’s entitlement to legal professional privilege unless waived by the Vice-Chancellor or relevant Executive member. Further information on legal professional privilege can be accessed at the Office of General Counsel webpage.

(7) The Office of General Counsel will provide legal services to the University using its team of in-house lawyers where possible recognising that a centralised legal function:

  1. in the short term, is more efficient and cost effective than briefing external lawyers;
  2. results in consistency of advice and application across the University;
  3. complements the legal compliance role undertaken by the Office of General Counsel;
  4. in the longer term, facilitates the development of the University’s own expertise in relevant areas of legal services and enables the University to more effectively capture its expertise and corporate history;
  5. complements the integrity obligations that sit with the University and the Office of General Counsel specifically; and
  6. most effectively manages the University’s risk.

(8) External lawyers may be engaged by the Office of General Counsel on behalf of the University where:

  1. the Office of General Counsel does not have the expertise or resources to provide the legal services in the timeframe required; or
  2. there are other considerations which support obtaining external legal services, such as the magnitude of the risk faced by the University.

(9) The Office of General Counsel may provide legal services to controlled entities where there is no conflict between the interests of the University and the controlled entity, the matter has sufficient connection to the core business and interests of the University and the Office of General Counsel has relevant expertise and resources available to conduct the matter.

(10) The Office of General Counsel does not provide legal advice or legal services to officers or staff in relation to any matter not directly arising out of or related to the University’s interests; or to students of the University. The Office of General Counsel may arrange for officers or staff of the University to obtain or receive independent legal advice in exceptional circumstances.

Communications with law enforcement agencies and external parties

(11) The University’s General Counsel:

  1. is responsible for communications with law enforcement agencies and external parties regarding the disclosure or release of corporate information and records (whether at the request of such agencies or parties, or where required under another policy or procedure);
  2. is authorised to receive service of legal documents on behalf of the University (including writs, originating process, subpoenas and search warrants); and
  3. is responsible for managing all litigation affecting or involving the University (subject to the involvement of the University’s insurers as relevant).
and no other staff member or associate is authorised to perform these functions.

(12) Nothing in this Policy is intended to prevent:

  1. a staff member from carrying out the duties of their position as set out in their position description or in a policy or procedure, including in respect of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic);
  2. appropriate reporting of emergencies;
  3. compliance with existing external reporting obligations (including under the Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure, to the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency, and government, financial and tax reporting etc); and
  4. disclosures made directly  to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) where a disclosure falls within the scope of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic).

Staff discipline

(13) The University may take action against a staff member or associate who fails to comply with this Policy in accordance with the Staff Discipline policy.

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Section 5 - Procedure

(14) The following procedure documents how to comply with this Policy:

  1. Engaging External Lawyers procedure.
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Section 6 - Definitions

(15) For the purpose of this Policy:

  1. associates: means contractors, consultants, volunteers, visiting appointees and visitors to the University.
  2. controlled entity: as defined in the Commercial Activities and Entities policy.
  3. corporate information and records: means all information and records concerning the business and interests of the University including information identifying staff, students and associates.
  4. external parties: includes government departments and authorities, regulatory bodies and legal practitioners.
  5. external lawyers: means accredited legal practitioners, including sole practitioners, law firms and barristers.
  6. General Counsel: means the individual holding that position in the University or, in the absence of or at the direction of the General Counsel, the Deputy General Counsel.
  7. legal services: means all forms of legal advice and legal services including in relation to litigious matters.