Cornelius Stevens v Emily Mccallum  ACTCA 13 (Higgins CJ, Crispin P and North J)
You can overturn your conviction if you can establish that by virtue of the incompetence of your counsel, your conviction was occasioned by a miscarriage of justice in the sense that you missed out on a substantial chance of acquittal. Whatever other scare tactics may be employed in favour of the preservation of the immunity, I believe it is true that counsel are less likely to cooperate in such appeals if the prospect of liability is attached to such cooperation.
The incompetence of counsel is a ground of appeal only in the criminal realm, and that is the only good reason in my mind for distinguishing between criminal and civil justice in considering advocates’ immunity. In this case, the Court’s contempt for the job done by the barrister was underscored by the language of the joint judgment, which included the words “blundered”, “egregious”, and “quixotic pilgrimage”, and the conviction was overturned because “the incompetent conduct of counsel led to the tender of the only evidence sufficient to convict the accused.” I have reproduced the whole of the Court’s summary of the relevant law below. Continue reading “ACT Supreme Court summarises incompetence of counsel as a ground of appeal”