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Sydney lawyer who made major claims about NSW Bar to be struck from roll

A Sydney lawyer’s name has been recommended to be struck from the roll of practitioners following a number of sensational allegations, including that a senior member had been “staring at him” and the NSW Bar Association and the council “orchestrated” a campaign against him professionally.

user iconNaomi Neilson 16 June 2023 Big Law
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The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) recommended that Christian Roger de Robillard’s name be removed from the roll of practitioners after a finding that he had engaged in professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct.

The proceedings, which were divided into two stages, found Mr de Robillard had made unfounded allegations against a Balmain-based principal lawyer and had failed to pay the lawyer the costs of an interlocutory application to strike his name from proceedings.

In the second stage, NCAT’s principal member Mark Le Poer Trench, senior member Harry Dixon and Lyn Porter made the order recommending the strike off Mr de Robillard’s name from the roll of practitioners.


“Fitness to practice as a lawyer requires the recognition of that responsibility and an undertaking of the limits which should not be crossed,” principal member Le Poer Trench, senior member Dixon and Ms Porter wrote in the judgment published earlier this month.

“Unfortunately, for the respondent, he has not demonstrated to us that he understands, or accepts, those limits and will abide by them if he is permitted to continue as a barrister or practising lawyer.”

Mr de Robillard has not held a practising certificate since 2018.

During the first stage of the proceedings, which concluded in December 2021, Mr de Robillard argued the Bar Association “has no independent legal personality which would make it a competent party in crucial proceedings” and asked NCAT to strike out its application.

NCAT’s members made it clear in both stages that the council “has the right or authority to commence the proceeding currently under consideration and to do so in its own name”.

During the five-day hearing last August, Mr de Robillard made a number of allegations against the Bar Council.

This included the cross-examination of its executive director, where Mr de Robillard attempted to establish that he was the “victim of an orchestrated campaign against him professionally, by the Bar Association and those who have been members of the Bar Council”.

It was submitted to NCAT that Mr de Robillard has an “extensive” disciplinary history, including four reprimands in October 2017, October 2018, June 2019 and August 2020; a refusal to grant a practising certificate for 2017–18; and a caution in August 2020.

The members found it “concerning” Mr de Robillard did not address or explain the previous unsatisfactory professional conduct in his disciplinary history during the stage-two proceedings.

“Instead, the thrust of the respondent’s arguments was to the effect that others are to blame,” the members wrote in concluding remarks.

While “regrettable” for his reputation and ability to financially support himself, NCAT’s members found it was not possible to impose a “less impactive protective order” than to strike his name from the roll.

“We also hold the view that it is a necessary outcome in order to uphold the confidence and respect of the public in the legal profession as a whole,” the members found.

Accusations of ‘staring’, apprehended bias

During the August 2022 hearing, Mr de Robillard called on principal member Le Poer Trench, senior member Dixon and the tribunal itself to recuse themselves from hearing the application.

Predicating his application for senior member Dixon to recuse himself, Mr de Robillard alleged he had been “staring at me pointedly since I’ve been sitting here this morning” and described the senior member as “staring in a very mean and aggressive way”.

Mr de Robillard also alleged senior member Dixon “could be described as a cheetah on a branch about to jump on his prey”.

The submissions led to the following exchange:

SENIOR MEMBER DIXON: I do not wish to engage with you about allegations--

RESPONDENT: Well, stop staring at me then.

SENIOR MEMBER DIXON: --Mr de Robillard which are totally unfounded.

RESPONDENT: Then stop staring at me.

SENIOR MEMBER DIXON: I listen to you as I listen to any counsel.

RESPONDENT: You’re staring at me, before you were not, before you had your head down looking down. Now, you’re staring at me.

Mr de Robillard accused principal member Le Poer Trench of receiving an email from the Bar Council while he was on the bench, but there was no further evidence to support this allegation.

He also made a claim the tribunal had prejudged the case before the August hearing had commenced and had “selectively marshalled” evidence from the first stage of the matter in order to “justify its collective prejudged view” that he was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.

“The allegation was an extremely serious allegation to make of the appointed members of any tribunal created by statute,” principal member Le Poer Trench, senior member Dixon and Ms Porter said.

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