Administrative Decisions Tribunal says Law Society’s penalty submissions too lenient

In Council of Law Society of New South Wales v TWS [2010] NSWADT 240, a three member tribunal presided over by Judicial Member Brennan handed down their decision 19 months after a two day hearing.  They found that the Society’s submissions on penalty were inadequate.  They reviewed the NSW authorities on the Tribunal’s powers in that circumstance, gave the solicitor notice that they were considering making a ‘protective order’ (whatever that might be, given that the sole purpose of professional discipline is ostensibly protection of the public), and told him to come back and make submissions.

What the Society had sought was a fine, a reprimand, a right to practise only as an employee for three years, and thereafter a right to seek a full practising certificate only upon doing well in certain educational courses.  There were many charges, many were made out, they involved repeated and serious wrongs, and the solicitor’s defence of them strongly suggested he still did not get the extent of and nature of his wrongdoing.  The review of the law is set out at [11] – [12].  In Victoria, compare Law Institute of Victoria v IAB [2008] VCAT 1998 where something in the nature of a plea bargain was engaged in between the Institute and the solicitor only to be varied against the solicitor’s interests by VCAT.

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