Staying disciplinary proceedings as abuses of process

Update, 23 December 2009: Doubt is cast on the correctness of Hunt AJA’s comments by Hodgson JA, the other justices of appeal agreeing, in Council of the NSW Bar Association v A (2008) 72 NSWLR 236 at 249; [2008] NSWCA 164 ([40]).

Original post: The following passage from the NSW Court of Appeal’s decision in Lindsay v Health Care Complaints Commission [2005] NSWCA 356 (Hunt AJA, others agreeing) casts some doubt on whether a medical disciplinary tribunal presided over by a judge had power to stay a disciplinary proceeding as an abuse of process. The issue arose in the context of which the legislation provided that “The members of the Tribunal are to conduct an inquiry into any complaint … referred to it”, and then, later “It is the duty of a Committee and the Tribunal to hear inquiries and appeals under this Act and to determine those inquiries and appeals expeditiously.” As the Court noted, “Both provisions express the obligation of the Tribunal to exercise that jurisdiction in unusually mandatory terms”. Continue reading “Staying disciplinary proceedings as abuses of process”

More on absolute privilege and lawyers and clients: Hercules v Phease

In “Whistleblowers and the Law of Defamation: Time for Statutory Privilege?” [2005] 3 Web JCLI, David Lewis cites More v Weaver [1928] 2KB 520 as authority for the general proposition that lawyer-client communications are absolutely privileged, that is, that they may not be sued upon in defamation. I have not read the case to check out that assertion, but someone else has noted the proposition was doubted by Lord Atkin in Minter v Priest [1930] AC 588.
The leading case on absolute privilege and lawyers and clients in Victoria is Hercules v Phease [1994] 2 VR 411, a decision of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria. In the latest High Court case on absolute privilege, Mann v O’Neill (1997) 191 CLR 204, Gummow J obligingly provided a little case note: Continue reading “More on absolute privilege and lawyers and clients: Hercules v Phease”