It goes without saying that the maintenance of standards is a hallmark of the legal profession and its support of the Rule of Law.

The NSW Supreme Court, in the recent decision of Green v Legal Profession Admission Board [2020] NSWSC 1655 reiterates that view in context of an application by an English trained lawyer for admission to the NSW Supreme Court.

The applicant was originally admitted to practice in England and Wales in 2008 and had 11 years experience before seeking admission in NSW. Initially that experience was as a lawyer in England and later in Australia in a range of roles, some legal related at least one was acknowledged not to be.

He sought admission in NSW. As is common with overseas applicants, he had to do some additional six academic subjects. All were completed other than Evidence.

The Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) declined to issue a compliance certificate in the absence of a qualification for Evidence. The applicant appealed against that decision.

The Court ( Adamson J)  examined the provisions of the Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015 (NSW), Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW),  and Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW) in detail, particularly provisions to do with standards and the purpose of the provisions.

The applicant sought to assert that as a “foreign lawyer”, if admitted (without Evidence) he could be admitted on conditions which would allow him to pass Evidence and practical legal training requirements within a specified period.

The Court disagreed.

The view of the court is perhaps best demonstrated simply by quoting the following provision of the decision:-

The wording of s 20 evinces a legislative intention to confer …  latitude on the Board with respect to admission of foreign lawyers since the option of conditional admission is not available for applicants who are not foreign lawyers” (para18);

Thus, the power in s 18 to exempt a person (including a foreign lawyer) from compliance with the academic or practical legal training prerequisites is intended to be exercised with regard to the power in s 20 to grant conditional admission to a foreign lawyer. The relevant decision-maker (whether it be the Board or the Court) is entitled to consider the conditions that could be imposed on admission of a foreign lawyer when addressing the question of whether the lawyer has sufficient skills to be eligible for admission for the purposes of s 18.” (para20)

Thus, the power in s 18 to exempt a person (including a foreign lawyer) from compliance with the academic or practical legal training prerequisites is intended to be exercised with regard to the power in s 20 to grant conditional admission to a foreign lawyer. The relevant decision-maker (whether it be the Board or the Court) is entitled to consider the conditions that could be imposed on admission of a foreign lawyer when addressing the question of whether the lawyer has sufficient skills to be eligible for admission for the purposes of s 18.” (para 20)

Applicants for admission, whether they were trained in New South Wales, elsewhere in Australia or fall within the definition of foreign lawyer in s 6 of the Uniform Law are required to fulfil the statutory requirements for admission. ” (para77)

The evident purpose of confining legal practice to those who meet the requisite standards is to protect the public. ” (para 79)

As such, the application was rejected, as were submissions to do with the requirement to satisfy the Evidence being invalid as unconstitutional and or in restraint of trade.

 

The above was prepared for and is intended to provide a broad general overview of issues only. 

It is not intended, and or must not be relied upon, as definitive legal advice.