ABC Radio National’s Law Report on ‘Lawyers Going AWOL’

Today’s Law Report is a panel discussion set up by its presenter, Damien Carrick, at a recent conference of legal regulators in Brisbane. There is a hypothetical about a sole practitioner who goes off the rails, and there’s discussion about the inexplicable controversy over Dr Haneef’s barrister Stephen Keim SC’s provision of his client’s transcript of interview to the media, and the varying responses of the Queensland Law Society and its Bar Association. There is talk too of Peter Faris. Dr Christine Parker, a Melbourne University academic and co-author with Professor Adrian Evans of Inside Lawyers’ Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2007), makes the same observation I made on this blog:

‘it’s very strange to me that the Bar should be saying that they’re investigating something; surely they should be making a complaint to the Commissioner, because it’s the Commissioner in Victoria who is supposed to receive complaints and then decide who is going to investigate them, and for them to be saying that publicly seems very odd.’

Mind you, I’m not sure that the Bar is saying that. Seems to me everyone else is talking about an investigation by the Bar. And it’s not clear to me whether the Bar is still considering the issues now that Mr Faris is no longer a member.

Queensland’s rule 60 (and 61 for good measure):

‘Integrity of hearings

60. (a) A barrister must not publish or assist the publishing of material concerning a current proceeding except by supplying only:

(i) copies of pleadings or court documents in their current form, which have been filed and which have been served in accordance with the court’s requirements;

(ii) copies of affidavits or witness statements, which have been read, tendered or verified in open court, clearly marked so as to show any parts which have not been read, tendered or verified or which have been disallowed on objection;

(iii) copies of transcript of evidence given in open court, if permitted by copyright and clearly marked so as to show any corrections agreed by the other parties or directed by the court;

(iv) copies of exhibits admitted in open court and without restriction on access;

(v) answers to unsolicited questions concerning the current proceeding and the answers are limited to information as to the identity of the parties or of any witness already called, the nature of the issues in the case, the nature of the orders made or judgment given including any reasons given by the court and the client’s sintentions as to any further steps in the case;

(vi) copies of submissions used in open Court and available to the parties, provided that where the barrister is engaged in the current proceeding, the barrister does so only with the consent of the client first obtained.

(b) Subject to sub rule (a), a barrister must not publish or take any step towards the publication of any material concerning any current or potential proceeding which –

(i) is inaccurate;

(ii) discloses any confidential information;

(iii) appears to or does express the opinion of the barrister on the merits of the current or potential proceeding or on any issue arising in the proceeding, other than in the course of genuine educational or academic discussion on matters of law.

61. A barrister will not have breached Rule 60 simply by advising the client about whom there has been published a report relating to the case, and who has sought the barrister’s advice in
relation to that report, that the client may take appropriate steps to present the client’s own
position for publication. ‘

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