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WA principal struck off for misleading District Court

The sole principal of a West Australian-based firm has been removed from the roll of practitioners following findings of “extremely serious conduct”.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 09 August 2019 SME Law
WA principal struck off for misleading District Court
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In March 2017, the WA State Administrative Tribunal found Ronald William Bower, who was the sole principal of Corser & Corser, guilty of professional misconduct in relation to proceedings in two separate and unrelated proceedings commenced in the state’s District Court.

It was found that he had knowingly sworn and caused to be filed an affidavit containing false or misleading evidence with the intention of misleading the District Court, caused three affidavits to be prepared, sworn (by another) and filed that he knew contained false and misleading evidence and with the intention of misleading the District Court, sent email communications to a client between November 2010 and May 2011 which he knew to be false and misleading and with the intention to mislead the client and deliberately permitted an email sent to the client to remain uncorrected when the practitioner knew the email to be false and misleading and intended that the client be misled by the email.

In May of that year, the Legal Profession Complaints Committee determined that the appropriate professional disciplinary consequence was to make and transmit a report on the finding to the full bench of the court with a recommendation that Mr Bower's name be removed from the roll of practitioners, and suspend his practising certificate pending a decision.

 
 

He appealed both the findings of professional misconduct and the order for transmission, both of which were dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Four months ago, an amended notice of originating motion to remove Mr Bower from the roll was lodged, which this time he did not oppose.

In determining whether or not to remove him from the roll of practitioners, the Supreme Court of WA had regard to Mr Bower’s health, his undertaking of pro bono and community work and his provision of 30 character references.

“Whilst these are matters that could, in other circumstances, be regarded as mitigating Mr Bower’s conduct, they do not take account of the principle that the court’s jurisdiction to remove a practitioner’s name from the roll is principally for the protection of the public,” the Court mused.

“After careful consideration of the circumstances of this matter we came to the view that Mr Bower is not a fit and proper person to practice law.”

The conduct of Mr Bower was “conduct of the most serious kind and was deliberately destructive of the trust and confidence that the court, clients and the public, are entitled to demand from practitioners”, the Court continued.

“His conduct was protracted, intentional and, insofar as Mr Bower contributed to the deliberately misleading content of the affidavits filed, is conduct that can be properly  as conduct that took advantage of a vulnerable employee,” it held.

“Mr Bower was not a junior practitioner at the time he engaged in the dishonest conduct. He was admitted in 1983 and was the sole principal of his legal practice. He was not acting at the direction of, or under pressure from, any other practitioner.”

“Mr Bower’s dishonest conduct was motivated by self‑interest. His dishonesty was to benefit himself and his firm’s defaults and to avoid the consequences of his own defaults being sheeted home to him. Mr Bowers conduct is incompatible with the duties of honesty and candour expected from all members of the legal profession,” it concluded.

The “only appropriate order”, the Supreme Court determined, was that Mr Bower’s name be removed from the roll.