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Royal commission hears details of lawyer disciplinary process

Royal commission hears details of lawyer disciplinary process

lawyer disciplinary process

The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, NSW Bar Association and Law Society of NSW have inadvertently become caught up in the banking royal commission saga, with their disciplinary procedures referenced in evidence.

A number of supplementary submissions to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry have been published following the end of the second hearings on financial advice and wealth management.

Among them, a submission from the Financial Planning Association responded to questions that counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC raised about its disciplinary process and whether its protocol regarding complainants is appropriate.

The association – whose chief executive Dante De Gori appeared as a witness before the royal commission in April – defended its internal member discipline procedure, likening it to that of the legal professional bodies.

“There is nothing unorthodox in not affording a right to a complainant be heard, as an advocate, in respect of professional disciplinary proceedings invoked in response to a complaint,” the submission stated.

“That is the practice in other professional disciplinary regimes, where the parties to the complaint process do not include the complainant.

“Complaints to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner with respect to a legal practitioner’s conduct, which are referred to the Law Society of NSW or the NSW Bar Association. The complainant does not have a right to be heard before the Disciplinary Tribunal.”

The submission also references the status quo for medical and accounting professional complaints.

“No conclusion is warranted that the FPA Disciplinary Regulation is deficient for not conferring on a complainant a right to be heard in disciplinary proceedings,” it concludes.

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