Last week the nation stopped to celebrate the High Court’s Centenary. Today, Folklaw celebrates the nine year anniversary of one of the NSW Supreme Court’s most memorable attacks on solicitors trying to be advocates.
Almost a decade on from Justice Young’s celebrated castigation, it is indeed time for all to ponder whether or not his criticisms have been taken on board.
Buckle up for another headspinning, butt-kicking trip down memory lane: ERS Engines v Wilson (1994) 35 NSWLR 193.
“Nowadays, solicitors are more prone to exercise their right to appear as advocates in the Supreme Court than in earlier days. In earlier days the Court was perhaps more lenient on solicitors who appeared in Court who did not live up to the standards of advocacy which are expected. Now that both barristers and solicitors are admitted as legal practitioners and more and more solicitors are appearing as advocates, I think the Court must expect the same degree of competence as it formerly expected of the bar. A solicitor who comes to this Court and puts a proposition of law without adequate preparation, without even looking at the authorities, can expect that his or her next appearance may well be answering a case of unsatisfactory professional conduct in that there is a substantial failure to reach reasonable standards of competence and diligence within the meaning of s127(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act 1987. Of course, the same thing applies to barristers, but I particularly mention solicitors in this warning because the Court, for far too long, has tolerated less than fair average quality of argument from many solicitors. I will not do anything on this occasion because despite acerbic comments from time to time the message has not even yet got through to the profession.”
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