Barrister who signed as witness to pay $10,000

A barrister purported to witness the signature of a wife on a guarantee at the request of his good friend the husband. But he did not witness her signature. Worse, he certified that he had explained the document to her and that she had appeared to understand it. A familiar story. As it happens, the wife suffered no loss, but she says that though she signed the guarantee, she did so under duress. Unbeknownst to the barrister, the couple’s relationship was heading for the Family Court.

The barrister cooperated fully from the outset and admitted his wrongdoing, but the investigation and hearing of the plea still ran up costs of over $5,000. The case is Legal Services Commissioner v MPRT [2007] VCAT 1986, not yet available on the web. The prosecutrix did not submit that suspension was appropriate. The barrister was reprimanded, fined $5,000 with a stay of 3 months, and ordered to pay the Commissioner’s costs

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