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Censured for failing to comply with standards committee direction

29 March 2018

[Names used in this article are fictitious]

A barrister has been censured and fined $1,000 for failing to provide documents to a lawyers standards committee.

The committee was considering a complaint about the barrister, Carstone, from a former client.

The committee emailed Carstone on 18 May 2017 requiring production of various documents by 31 May.

When nothing was received, the first of a number of reminders was sent to Carstone on 12 June.

Nothing was received in response to either the first or the subsequent reminders. The standards committee decided to inquire of its own motion into his conduct and sent Carstone a notice of hearing, inviting submissions – in particular whether the barrister willfully obstructed or resisted the standards committee in the execution of its powers. Carstone did not respond.

In its investigation into the matter, the committee noted that Carstone’s failure to comply with the notice requiring production of various documents meant that the committee was unable to investigate a complaint from a former client to the fullest extent.

“It has hindered the committee’s enquiry and prevented the committee from dealing with his former client’s complaint in an efficient and timely manner,” the committee said.

“Non-compliance without lawful justification with directions of a standards committee is a serious matter.”

The committee observed that reasonable engagement with the complaints process and mandatory compliance with directions to provide information is necessary for the Lawyers Complaints Service and standards committees to comply with the focus of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (LCA) which requires a “responsive regulatory regime”.

The committee determined that Carstone’s failure to comply with the committee’s direction to produce various materials relating to a complaint about him was unsatisfactory conduct, on the basis that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, Carstone had willfully obstructed or resisted the standards committee in the execution of power confirmed on the committee by s 147 of the LCA.

As well as the censure and $1,000 fine, the committee ordered Carstone to pay $1,000 costs.

Last updated on the 29th March 2018