Dean Richard Love set up the website, applyforlegalaid.com.au, in early 2012 when he was on the panel of private practitioners for Legal Aid Western Australia (LAWA).
Love instructed a web developer to populate the site with one document called ‘Legal Aid Application form’ that included the LAWA logo.
The web developer was also told not to include Love’s email address, to which the completed form would be sent.
Love would then submit a genuine Legal Aid application on the applicant’s behalf without their knowledge.
Love’s conduct came to the attention of LAWA in March 2012, when a respondent in a child custody matter was refused legal aid and told to contact her lawyer, Love.
The woman informed LAWA that she had never heard of Love and believed she had submitted her application directly to LAWA.
On 9 May 2012, LAWA contacted Love and demanded that he withdraw the online application form with the LAWA logo, which he did on the same day.
The website was taken down in July 2012.
The Supreme Court judgment, handed down on 28 October, backed the findings of the State Administrative Tribunal that Love had engaged in professional misconduct within the meaning of section 403 of the Legal Profession Act 2008.
The tribunal stated that, “to his credit”, Love consented to the findings.
However, the tribunal also noted that Love did not demonstrate any remorse for his conduct.
“He concedes only that his conduct was ‘stupid’ and seeks to excuse himself by saying that any harm from his actions was limited to being instructed in matters ahead of other members of LAWA’s panel of solicitors,” the decision stated.
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