Queensland Law Society

Show cause event

‘Show Cause Event’ is defined in Schedule 2 to the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) as follows:

show cause event, in relation to a person, means –

  1. his or her becoming bankrupt or being served with notice of a creditor’s petition presented to the Court under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), section 43; or
  2. his or her presentation, as a debtor, of a declaration to the Official Receiver under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), section 54A, of his or her intention to present a debtor’s petition or his or her presentation, as a debtor, of a petition under section 55 of that Act; or
  3. his or her applying to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors, compounding with his or her creditors or making an assignment of his or her remuneration for their benefit; or
  4. his or her conviction for a serious offence or a tax offence, whether or not –
    1. the offence was committed in or outside this jurisdiction; or
    2. the offence was committed while the person was engaging in legal practice as an Australian legal practitioner or was practising foreign law as an Australian-registered foreign lawyer; or
    3. other persons are prohibited from disclosing the identity of the offender.

In summary:

  • paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) apply if a practitioner has become a bankrupt, or has been served with a creditor’s petition, or has taken advantage of a law relating to bankruptcy by appointing a Controlling Trustee under Part X of the Bankruptcy Act 1966, or entering into a Debt Agreement under Part IX of the Bankruptcy Act 1966; and
  • paragraph (d) applies if a practitioner has been convicted of a serious offence or a tax offence.

What is a conviction?

Pursuant to section 11(1) of the Act, a conviction is a finding of guilt, or the acceptance of a guilty plea, irrespective of whether a conviction is recorded on sentence.

What is a serious offence?

The term ‘serious offence’ is defined in Schedule 2 to the Act to mean an indictable offence. An indictable offence is an offence in respect of which the offender can’t be prosecuted or convicted, except upon indictment – i.e. anything other than a simple offence (e.g. a fine for speeding).

Requirements of local practising certificate holder

Pursuant to section 68(1) of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) a local legal practitioner (the holder of a practising certificate issued by the Queensland Law Society) is required to notify the Society if a ‘Show Cause Event’ happens.

Section 68(1)(a) of the Act requires the notification of the ‘Show Cause Event’ to be given to the Society in the approved form within 7 days of the event. The approved form (QLS Form (LPA) 07) can be downloaded from the QLS website.

Section 68(1)(b) of the Act requires a practitioner to give the Society, within 28 days, a written statement explaining why, despite the event, the practitioner remains a fit and proper person to hold a local practising certificate.

The Society requests that the written statement be given in the form of a statutory declaration.

Requirements of an applicant for the grant of a local practising certificate

A person applying for the grant of a local practising certificate (i.e. a person who doesn’t hold a local practising certificate at the time of making the application for a local practising certificate) who has been the subject of a ‘Show Cause Event’ since being admitted and who has not previously given the Society a written statement in respect of the event, is required to give the Society, with their application, a written statement about the event and explaining why, despite the event, the person considers himself or herself to be a fit and proper person to hold a local practising certificate.

Again, the Society requests that the written statement be given in the form of a statutory declaration.

What does the Society do after receiving a written statement

Section 68(2) of the Act requires the Society to give copies of all such written statements to the Legal Services Commissioner (the Commissioner), who can, upon receipt, initiate further enquiries, or bring a disciplinary application against the person.

Pursuant to section 69(1) of the Act:

  • the Society can amend, suspend, or cancel a local practising certificate, or refuse to renew a local practising certificate, if the certificate holder fails to give the written statement, or the Society considers that the certificate holder has not shown in the written statement that the certificate holder continues to be a fit and proper person to hold the local practising certificate presently held by the practitioner; or
  • in the case of an applicant for the grant of a practising certificate, refuse to grant a local practising certificate if the Society considers that the person has not shown in the written statement that the person is a fit and proper person to hold a local practising certificate.

Pursuant to section 69(3)(a) of the Act, if the Society refuses to grant or renew a local practising certificate, or decides to amend, suspend, or cancel, a local practising certificate, the Society must give the affected person an Information Notice about the decision.

Pursuant to section 69(4) of the Act, the Society must also give a copy of the Information Notice to the Commissioner.

Right of review

Section 69(3)(b) of the Act provides a right to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a review of the Society’s decision.

An application for a review of the Society’s decision is to be made under section 18 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (QCAT Act).

An application to QCAT must, in accordance with section 33(3) of the QCAT Act, be made within 28 days of the day of being notified of the decision.

An applicant for a review of a decision can also apply, under section 22 of the QCAT Act, for a stay of the decision.

Under section 20 of the QCAT Act, a review is a fresh hearing on the merits to produce the correct and preferable decision.