find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
'Beefed-up' laws must follow new commissioner role, lawyer says

'Beefed-up' laws must follow new commissioner role, lawyer says

Sydney lawyer Stewart Levitt has warned that Australian laws must change along with the appointment of the new special prosecutor to deal with bank crimes and misconduct.

Following news of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plans to appoint an ASIC commissioner to the new role, Mr Levitt has highlighted the need for legislative reform.

He warns that the role of a special prosecutor will be undermined unless laws are strengthened and definitions clarified.  

“It is essential that the special prosecutor acts independently and autonomously, and further that the law is beefed up so that there is a clear legislative definition of 'bank crimes' and 'bank misconduct'," Mr Levitt said.

“From December 2007 to September 2013, the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments presided over the unrelenting scourge of bank customers and the plunder of their assets, unprotected by ASIC or government action. There was no meaningful legislative change in six years,” he said.

Mr Levitt has further questioned whether the government’s “complicity, or at best, complacency, during the banks’ three-and-a-half-year ‘reign of terror’ from 2009-2012", would be considered by a royal commission proposed by Federal Labor.

Citing a number of matters he has been involved with over the years, Mr Levitt makes the case that it is ASIC’s primary interest for proceedings to close down, with settlements reached and “borrowers receiving consultation money but not full compensation”. He uses class action proceedings brought against CBA, Macquarie Bank and the Bank of Queensland as examples.

“Our consumer laws are weak and the prospects for positive outcomes for borrowers in court reflect that. Our insolvency laws were conceived to protect secured creditors, first and foremost, leaving unsecured creditors and borrowers out in the cold,” he said.

“We need real reform, principally strong consumer protection laws for bank customers."

Mr Levitt has been pushing for the introduction of a role dedicated to prosecuting bank crimes and misconduct for several years.

In 2013, he made a submission to an inquiry into ASIC performance before the Senate Standing Committee on Economics that any negotiation on charges or prosecutorial duties should be left to a separate division of the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (OCDPP).

The recommendation stressed that once a matter had been properly investigated and referred by ASIC, a corporate and banking division of the ODPP should be given sole responsibility to pursue criminal activity.

“ASIC should have no right to engage in plea bargaining at any level,” the submission read.

The impact of legislating extra powers to ASIC "will not do the trick without better and tougher laws" it is obliged to enforce, Mr Levitt said. He has also called for a federal government taskforce to enact legislation that addresses failings in bank performance.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

'Beefed-up' laws must follow new commissioner role, lawyer says
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...