The Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) requires the Commissioner (at section 472) to keep a register (the ‘discipline register’) of all disciplinary action taken under the Act. It requires also that the register includes disciplinary action taken under corresponding laws in the other states and territories against lawyers who are or were admitted in Queensland and/or who were practising in Queensland when the conduct in question occurred.
The requirement to keep the discipline register applies only in relation to disciplinary action taken after the Act came into effect (on 1 July 2004) but the Act allows us to include disciplinary action taken under previous legislation. We have included disciplinary action going back to 1996.
The Act says the discipline register must appear on the Commission’s website (or on a website identified on the Commission’s website). It says the register must include the name of the person against whom the disciplinary action was taken, the name of the law firms where they worked at the time of the conduct in question and a range of other information including the particulars of the disciplinary action taken against them.
We have included a direct link for every person whose name appears on the register to the written decision of the court or disciplinary body that found against them including any decisions on appeal. The written decisions provide the full particulars of the allegations against them together with the disciplinary body's findings, reasons and orders. Please read the decision.
Crucially, the Act defines 'disciplinary action' (at section 471) to mean an order of a court or the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (or its predecessors) that finds a lawyer guilty of professional misconduct. This means that the register does not include decisions of a disciplinary body or a court that find a lawyer guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.
In line with this requirement, the Legal Services commission also publish more comprehensive information which includes links to every published disciplinary or related decision of the Queensland disciplinary bodies and courts.
The Discipline page includes links to decisions that make findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct in addition to decisions that make findings of professional misconduct, and also to decisions that find lawyers not guilty of any of the disciplinary charges alleged against them. It includes links also to selected other decisions of the courts that we believe make new or important statements of law or principles relevant to the disciplinary process and/or a lawyer’s professional obligations.
We have published these more comprehensive listings in order to:
- promote the transparency of disciplinary proceedings;
- promote public confidence in the openness of disciplinary proceedings;
- ensure when a disciplinary body finds a lawyer guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and orders that the lawyer be publicly reprimanded that the reprimand is in fact public, and sufficiently public to have the desired deterrent effect; and
- educate lawyers and members of the public alike about forms of conduct that are unacceptable and that warrant a disciplinary response, albeit that the conduct falls short of professional misconduct.