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Barrister to be struck from roll for engaging in legal practice

A barrister’s name will be removed from the roll of practitioners for ignoring several orders not to engage in legal practice, including by sending defamation threats to this publication.

user iconNaomi Neilson 23 April 2024 Big Law
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NSW Supreme Court Justices Mark Leeming, Kristina Stern and John Griffiths made an order to remove the name of barrister Michael Kelvyn Rollinson from the roll of Australian lawyers.

The court was told Rollinson engaged in legal practice when he did not hold a practising certificate, breached an August 2021 undertaking, and breached two further injunctions restraining him from practising or advertising he was entitled to do so.

This resulted in two separate contempt proceedings where Rollinson was found guilty of 16 counts of contempt of court.


The first proceedings resulted in a three-year suspended sentence of imprisonment, and the second sentencing proceedings were remanded to November 2024 on the condition that he enter an agreement to comply with conditions and to be of good behaviour.

In submissions to the Supreme Court, Rollinson’s solicitor said his conduct was related to his poor mental health and acknowledged it was unlikely to “improve sufficiently that he will be able to have the capacity to safely practice in the future”.

“The respondent’s repeated and wilful contraventions of the court’s injunctions, spanning a period of months, as well as breaches of the conditions of his suspended sentence, demonstrated his unpreparedness to comply with the law,” the bench found.

“It would be inimical to the profession’s reputation and public confidence in its integrity for his name to remain on the roll.”

One of the contempt proceedings partly related to Rollinson’s threats to Lawyers Weekly on behalf of solicitor Vincent Stanizzo.

In an email sent to this publication’s editor, Rollinson claimed Stanizzo was willing to file a statement of claim if the article in dispute was not retracted and compensation was not offered.

In an email to counsel, Rollinson asked for an “informal second opinion” on the defamation threat’s prospects of success.

The counsel declined to give advice and said he felt “compelled” to pass the correspondence onto the NSW Bar Association because he knew Rollinson did not hold a practising certificate.