Queensland Law Society

Legal Services Commissioner v Z

Legal Services Commissioner v Z*

Catchwords

Professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct – criminal offences

Background

The respondent was admitted as a barrister in April 1993 and held a practising certificate until June 2011.

In 2010, the respondent began acting for a client on a direct brief basis to pursue a claim for compensation.

In February 2011, the claim was settled at mediation. The agreed settlement sum of $89,300 was received by the respondent. The respondent deposited the monies into his account. The respondent did not pay any of the settlement sum to the client.

In March 2012, the applicant issued the respondent a notice to provide documents (the Notice). The respondent failed to comply with the Notice.

In May 2017, the respondent was found guilty of one count of fraud (the Conviction) and sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment.

Following a Bar Association of Queensland (BAQ) investigation,[1] the applicant commenced a disciplinary application against the respondent.[2]

Issues

The respondent faced two charges:

Charge 1 - having been convicted of a serious offence, that being the Conviction; and

Charge 2 - failure to respond to the Notice.[3]

Issues considered

The respondent did not contest any part of the disciplinary application.

The Tribunal held that the respondent’s breach meant that he was not fit and proper to hold office within the legal profession and recommended the removal of the respondent’s name from the local roll of legal practitioners.

The Tribunal also made a formal finding that the respondent was guilty of charge 2.

The Tribunal ordered the respondent to pay the applicant’s costs of and incidental to the disciplinary application.

 

Harry Lee

Ethics Clerk

As approved by Stafford Shepherd, Director, QLS Ethics Centre

* The practitioner’s name has been de-identified



[1] The applicant can refer disciplinary investigations to BAQ under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld), s 435(2).

[2] The applicant may apply to the tribunal for an order against an Australian legal practitioner in relation to a complaint or an investigation matter - see Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld), s 452.

[3] A legal practitioner who is served such a notice by an investigator (which may be the applicant or BAQ) must comply with the requirement unless the practitioner has a reasonable excuse for not complying with it – see Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld), s 543(1).