Exclusive: Incorporation debate prompts legal action

By Leanne Mezrani|11 September 2013

The barrister leading the pro-incorporation campaign has threatened legal action against the NSW Bar Association.

Sydney barrister and advocate of incorporation, John Hyde Page (pictured), issued NSW Bar Association president Phillip Boulten SC with a notice of intended legal action over his right, as a director of the Bar Council, to inspect proxy votes.

The proxies relate to the motion calling for individual barristers to be permitted to offer legal services through a single-member, sole-director company, which will be voted on at a general meeting of the Bar Association next Tuesday (17 September).

In a letter dated 9 September Hyde Page referred to an earlier request on 3 September to inspect all proxies, and purported proxies, that have been lodged in respect of the general meeting. This request, according to Hyde Page, had been ignored by the NSW Bar Association.

“As yet I have received no response to that letter ... that means there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity for my director’s right of inspection to be exercised to some useful end; that is, for me to seek remedial action in respect of the processing of proxies if there have been irregularities,” he wrote.

A hearing of the Federal Court was scheduled for 2.30pm today (11 September). However, it will not go ahead following an undisclosed resolution between Hyde Page and Boulten.

Lawyers Weekly exclusively reported late last month (28 August) that opponents of incorporation made an unsuccessful attempt to exclude more than 200 proxy votes from next Tuesday’s ballot.

Tomorrow (12 September) Hyde Page and Arthur Moses SC, one of the opponents of incorporation who challenged the validity of these proxies, will put their respective arguments to the junior bar at a CPD event organised by the NSW Bar Association.

Both sides of the incorporation debate have also thrashed it out in the media on the topic of tax implications of incorporation.

Supporters of the motion told Lawyers Weekly last week that its opponents had overstated the danger of incorporated barristers having their tax benefits cancelled by Part 4A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936; while opponents continued to warn of possible legal ramifications.

Exclusive: Incorporation debate prompts legal action
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