The New South Wales Law Society distinguishes itself amongst the Australian law societies with its in depth ethics resources. The Bar Association too is good in that regard in that state. Here is an excellent paper by R.R. Stitt QC and G.C. Lindsay SC entitled “Disciplinary Proceedings Affecting Barristers”. It’s a bit old now (June 1997, revised January 1999) but, really, not much changes in the world of professional discipline. I now acknowledge this paper as a source of various future posts. There is a Victorian equivalent, by Dr Ian Freckleton (available here until 1 February 2007, filed under 5 April 2006).
New South Wales Bar Association v LI (No 2)  NSWADT 263
Some of the allegedly agro behaviour of a now-78-year-old barrister at an arbitration which commenced on 19 December 1999 was not appreciated and resulted in a disciplinary complaint in May 2000. In mid-2003, a charge was finally laid by the NSW Bar Association. There had been changes of personnel at the Bar Association, and 5 months of absolute inactivity while they were distracted by another matter.
The Bar Assocation did not comply with a time limit for filing the charge after having become satisfied that the Administrative Decisions Tribunal would be likely to find unsatisfactory conduct. Their solicitor was ignorant of the limitation period, and they had become used to being granted leave retrospectively as a matter of course to file out of time. The barrister had made certain admissions towards acknowledging that his conduct amounted to unsatisfactory conduct. There had been protracted negotiations towards an agreed outcome involving a private reprimand and some form of counselling. But the barrister ultimately declined to be compelled to engage in psychotherapy. The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ultimately granted the Bar Association’s application for retrospective leave to file the charge about 6 months late. Continue reading “Leave granted retrospectively to file charge out of time against barrister for 1999 conduct”
The Australian reports on the Victorian Medical Practitioners Board‘s finding in favour of the 5 doctors allegedly involved in a late term abortion at the Royal Women’s Hospital which upset Coalition MP Julian McGauran. He exercised the right open to everyone to complain about the conduct of a doctor, and the Medical Board was obliged to investigate unless it found the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious, but the saga has prompted change: in future, the Board can decline to investigate on the basis that the complaint is misconceived, lacking in substance or “does not warrant investigation”.
The Supreme Court’s decision (Royal Women’s Hospital v Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria  VSC 225) and Court of Appeal’s decisions ( VSCA 85) are leading authorities about public interest immunity, which the Court of Appeal held provided no basis to withhold confidential patient records.
SPB v Law Institute of Victoria  VSC 509 (Gillard J, 12 December 2005) s. 151(3)(c)
Solicitors who read the back pages of the RPA News (dubbed the “sports pages”) well know the schadenfreude associated with the decisions of professional regulators. Rarely does one have such an enhanced opportunity for guilty pleasure in the public excoriation of a regulator as in this decision, however. His Honour railed especially about the adverse finding made on the papers without interviewing the former client or having her confirm her allegations by statutory declaration.