Court of Appeal Explains the Application for Admission to Practice in Victoria

In Board of Examiners v XY [2006] VSCA 190, Justice Chernov gave some explanation of the processes for application for admission to practice:

“Scheme for admission to legal practice

Before considering the merits of the appeal, it is necessary to mention briefly the relevant aspects of the statutory structure that governed the admission of persons to legal practice in this State at the relevant time and the circumstances relating to Ms XY’s application to the Board for a certificate that she was a fit and proper person to be admitted to practice. I turn first to the legislative framework. That was contained in the relevant provisions of the [Legal Practice Act, 1996] the Legal Practice (Admission) Rules (“the Admission Rules”) and Chapter II of the Supreme Court Rules 1998.

So far as is relevant, s.6(1)(a) of the Act recognised the Supreme Court’s power to admit a person to legal practice where he or she has met the requirements of the Admission Rules. Importantly, it was the Board that had the responsibility for determining, in the first instance, whether these conditions were satisfied.

One of the requirements of the Admission Rules was that the applicant demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that he or she was a fit and proper person to be admitted and, upon that requirement being met, the Board was obliged to provide to the applicant a certificate to that effect in terms of Schedule 14 to the Act. The applicant was then required to produce the certificate to the Court, and it was on the basis of that certification that the Court would ordinarily order that the applicant be admitted to legal practice.

the Board has the obligation of determining, in the first instance, whether an applicant for admission has met the requirements of the rules and is a fit and proper person to be admitted to practice. And it is on its certificate that the Court makes the order admitting the applicant to legal practice. The Board is comprised of three barristers and three solicitors, each with considerable expertise in the practice of the law, who combine, on an honorary basis, to administer the admissions of persons to legal practice in Victoria. As the Full Court said in Re Warren the position and function of the Board were appropriately described by Stawell, C.J. in Re Shaw in the following terms:

‘The members of the Board discharge onerous and responsible duties, for which the profession and the Court are indebted to them. They occupy, relatively to this Court, a position similar to that occupied by the Benchers, to the Courts in England. It is manifestly desirable that the Courts should sustain and support the position of the Board as fully as they can, and it is clearly not the duty of the Court to enter on the consideration of any subject, unless directly invited to do so.'”

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