A new text on professional discipline

Lovegrove & Lord‘s Kim Lovegrove and barrister Sav Korica have just published a little book called Disciplinary Hearings and Advocacy (Hybrid, 2009). It sells for $39.95. Lovegrove is the Chairman of the Building Practitioners Board, and presides over disciplinary hearings. I suspect that frustration with other decision makers’ decision making (‘there may exist some, particularly those who are not legally trained, who may harbour a misconception about the purpose of disciplinary porceedings in that they may be of the view that their primary mandate is to punish’) and, more particularly, with the attitude adopted by advocates appearing before him (‘Members are often bamboozled about determining whether an advocate is contesting or mitigating’) has driven him to write the book.

It is not intended to be, and it is not, the definitive lawyers’ text in this relatively simple area of law which is beset by contradictions, a general want of foundational jurisprudence, and characterised by inconsistency of disposition of similar offences.  That book remains to be written in Australia, and pity the poor author, who would be forced to sift through the detail of the frequently amended and ever disparate disciplinary schemes around the country.  The book is, in style, in fact somewhat more like an essay than a text, with the author’s personal views liberally sprinkled through the book.  It is only 80 pages long.  The work does not aspire to be a legal text; rather its purpose is a practical guide for decision makers and professionals, most of whom will not be lawyers.  How well the book achieves this aim is something which only laymen will be able to tell, but parts of it will be of interest to lawyers unfamiliar with the jurisdiction too.  The Briginshaw explanation of the application of the civil burden of proof to serious allegations is set out at lenght, along with the various glosses and explanations given to it by Australian courts, such as Neat Holdings Pty Ltd v Karajan (1965) 112 CLR 517.

Its strongest feature is its treatment of a good plea in mitigation.  That is bread and butter for criminal lawyers (though one hears decision makers deplore the standard of plea making often enough).  But it is a foreign world to practitioners of the civil law unfamiliar with the somewhat hybrid world of professional discipline.

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