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Boxing champion and lawyer reprimanded for ‘oversight’ of court orders

A lawyer who made a name for himself as a boxing champion failed to convince a tribunal to overturn a decision by a Professional Conduct Committee of the Council of the Law Society of NSW to reprimand him for conduct that was “entirely inconsistent with the standards of competence and diligence”.

user iconNaomi Neilson 31 July 2023 Big Law
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NSW-based family and criminal lawyer Lovemore Ndou unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the committee’s decision to reprimand him for unsatisfactory professional conduct by complaining the punishment was “too harsh in the circumstances of his case”.

Mr Ndou, who was a boxing champion in South Africa before moving to Australia and beginning a law career, was originally reprimanded and ordered to complete a legal ethics course.

Mr Ndou had been acting in a family matter when he used subpoenaed documents for other purposes and breached an obligation at common law not to use the documents obtained through compulsory court process for a collateral purpose.


When the opposing lawyer sent an email to Mr Ndou concerning the use of these documents, Mr Ndou told him he would be away for some time but suggested: “In the meantime, you are more than welcome to make a complaint to the Legal Services Commissioner”.

While Mr Ndou does not dispute he engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct, he said the breach was “unintentional and resulted from oversight” and asked that the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) downgrade the punishment.

He claimed the reprimand had negatively affected his business.

However, the NSW Law Society said Mr Ndou’s explanation that he “missed” the order prohibiting the additional use of the subpoenaed documents was “entirely unsatisfactory and inconsistent with the standards of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent lawyer”.

On the issue of the first complaint for using documents other than for their intended purposes, NCAT president Justice Lee Armstrong, deputy president Stuart Wetgarth and general member Elayne Hayes accepted it was an “unintentional” breach.

“Nonetheless, we consider that the conduct falls well short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent lawyer,” they said.

As for the second complaint, NCAT accepted it was also an oversight and Mr Ndou was “unaware of, or misunderstood, his obligations”.

“Nonetheless, we do not consider that a mere caution is sufficient – this would not reflect the seriousness of the applicant’s conduct in breaching his fundamental obligations to the court in ensuring compliance with court orders,” the members concluded.

“We consider that, at a minimum, it is appropriate to reprimand.”

The orders were varied to the reprimand and a $2,000 fine.