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
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
Infrastructure Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Perth WA
· We'd be particularly interested to hear from you if you were a lawyer who knows your way around the infrastructure and energy sectors.
View details
Attorneys weigh up immunity

Attorneys weigh up immunity

WHILE THE High Court has not only shored up but extended lawyers’ immunity in a recent decision, state attorneys-general brought the matter into question again as Lawyers Weekly went to press…

WHILE THE High Court has not only shored up but extended lawyers’ immunity in a recent decision, state attorneys-general brought the matter into question again as Lawyers Weekly went to press earlier this week. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) was set to discuss the controversial matter in a meeting on the Gold Coast.

Uniform defamation and terrorism laws, along with immunity for barristers and solicitors, were all on the agenda at the SCAG meeting, which ran in conjunction with the LawAsia Down Under Conference this week.

A long-running concern of the legal profession, the common law immunity from negligence suits enjoyed by barristers has been under threat in recent years. Recently, however, the High Court upheld immunity for barrister conducting a case and solicitors involved in court work.

In Ryan DOrta-Ekenaike v Victoria Legal Aid and Ian Denis McIvor, the Court determined D’Orta-Ekenaike could not proceed with a negligence claim against his barrister. The decision has set Australia apart from New Zealand, Britain, the US and Canada, where the immunity principle has been overturned. Justice Michael Kirby was the only dissenting High Court judge in the 6-1 ruling.

According to reports, New South Wales Attorney-General Bob Debus was to support an investigation into whether immunity is justified. His Victorian counterpart Rob Hulls made a proposal in a meeting of the Attorneys-General in 2000, arguing that removing the exemption is one way to restore public faith in the judicial system.

Hulls said it was “pretty difficult” to argue that one section of the community, barristers, should be exempt from the negligence laws.

“I’m of the view that clients should have the right to a redress if it can be shown that their barrister has been grossly negligent. The House of Lords in the UK came to that conclusion. And I think that we need a national approach to this same issue here in Australia,” Hulls told ABC radio in October 2000.

But last year, the Law Council of Australia’s then president, Bob Gotterson, said the ramifications of a loss of barristers’ immunity could be drastic. The common law immunity from suits doesn’t operate with regard to most of what advocates do, he said, adding that immunity is essential to ensure advocates can conduct cases freely and independently, “without the chilling spectre of litigation hanging over them”.

Changes to current immunity provisions could mean cases are conducted with a scrupulous eye to possible liability action. “This could well mean adding expense as more and more time is spent checking out every nook and cranny,” he said.

See next weeks issue of Lawyers Weekly for detailed reports both on the SCAG meeting and the Law Asia conference.

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

Attorneys weigh up immunity
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Tsunami
Nov 22 2017
‘Document tsunami’ driving lawyers to upskill in TAR
A prominent Victorian judge has highlighted the growing need for lawyers to expand their knowledge o...
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
Nov 22 2017
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
The Victorian Bar has named Dr Matt Collins QC as its new president, with an additional eight member...
Law Council of Australia
Nov 21 2017
LCA calls for urgent adoption of ‘game-changing’ recommendation
The Law Council of Australia has urged for the immediate adoption of a key recommendation put forwar...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...