Not impressed ... Justice John Nield. Photo: Supplied
A Queanbeyan lawyer has been fined $10,000 and ordered to complete an ethics and practice management course by a Canberra court. The ACT Law Society has also been given the green light to name and shame the solicitor via a public reprimand.
The court heard the lawyer has had a chequered history as a legal practitioner, having been found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct in the ACT on a number of occasions.
The ACT Law Society took the lawyer to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal after he failed to file formal orders in one case, it received a complaint about his handling of a defence in another matter, and ignored correspondence from the peak legal body. But the lawyer failed to attend the tribunal's sittings into both matters and a subsequent costs hearing.
In both cases, the tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct and of bringing the legal profession into disrepute.
It ordered that he be publicly reprimanded, fined $10,000, pay the costs of the Law Society, and recommended he be removed from the roll of practitioners.
The solicitor appealed the decision to the ACT Supreme Court, but it was dismissed by Justice John Nield.
In a judgment published this week, Justice Nield said he was not impressed by the lawyer as a witness or his claims the Law Society was biased against him.
''It was clear to me … that [he] was doing his utmost to minimise his responsibility for his failures in relation to his handling of the [cases],'' Justice Nield wrote.
''It is clear, I think, bearing in mind that [he] did not appear before the tribunal on the hearing before it [for the complaints], that [he] regards the tribunal with the same rudeness and discourtesy and lack of respect in which he regards the Law Society.
''I doubt that he understands and appreciates the seriousness of his failings to respond to requests from the Law Society, which has a duty and responsibility to ensure that a solicitor acts with integrity and in the best interests of his or her client.''
The judge said the fine and public reprimand would help maintain proper standards in the legal profession, to protect the public in their dealings with members of the legal profession, and to protect the reputation of the legal profession.