Ex-Billabong boss struck off as lawyer
Billabong’s former CEO Matthew Perrin has been removed from the roll of legal practitioners in Queensland following an application brought by the Legal Services Commissioner.
Earlier this year, the Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) sought to remove Mr Perrin from the roll, arguing his convictions for serious offences constitute professional misconduct.
In 2016, the former Allens lawyer was convicted of six counts of aggravated forgery and three counts of aggravated fraud for forging the signature of his wife and brother on $13 million of loan documents against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
He was consequently sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in January 2017, eligible for parole on 20 June 2020. However, just last month Mr Perrin was released a full year before his eligibility date after a hearing between he and the Parole Board of Queensland. The reason for the early release was not noted.
Mr Perrin, who has not held a practising certificate since June 2005, agreed to the action from the Office of the LSC, saying he had no intention to re-obtain a practising certificate.
“I’ve no intention – I’ve volunteered to be removed, or I consent to be removed,” he said.
In handing down his decision to strike Mr Perrin from the roll of legal practitioners, Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal president Justice Martin Daubney said the application by the LSC was just.
“The respondent was a mature businessman who was convicted of serious offences of dishonesty. A finding that the respondent was not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice is clearly warranted. It follows that the tribunal makes a finding of professional misconduct against the respondent,” Justice Daubney said.
“Having made that finding, the tribunal’s discretion under s 456 of the LPA is enlivened. The tribunal has a wide discretion as to the orders it may make upon a finding that a practitioner has engaged in professional misconduct. The most serious of those is an order recommending that a practitioner’s name be removed from the local roll.
“… Honesty is an essential and fundamental trait for legal practitioners. While it is no part of this tribunal’s function to punish the respondent again for having committed these serious offences, it is necessary to note that the nature of the offences are such as to impugn his character. His conduct was wilfully deceitful, and was engaged in for his own personal benefit.
“ It was conduct of such a nature and extent as to provide ‘instant demonstration of unfitness’. The public should be protected from practitioners who have demonstrated such a personal propensity for dishonesty. Such a person is not one in whom the public, other members of the profession, or the bench can safely repose trust and confidence. Nor is such a person one who deserves ongoing endorsement of fitness to practice by inclusion on the roll of legal practitioners.
“Nothing has been put before this tribunal which would gainsay a present conclusion that the probability is that the respondent is permanently unfit to practice. Accordingly, it is the recommendation of the tribunal that the respondent’s name be removed from the roll.”
Along with being removed from the roll, Mr Perrin was ordered to pay the “applicant’s costs of and incidental to this discipline application, such costs to be assessed on the standard basis in the manner in which costs would be assessed if the matter were in the Supreme Court of Queensland”.