The general public must take care when seeking legal advice, and ensure all dealings are done with qualified and certified solicitors, warned Queensland Law Society, following a recent breach by a Gold Coast company running a legal practice without a lawyer.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Queensland agreed to orders from a QLS application to stop a Gold Coast-based company, Stenton & Moore PTY LTD, and its executive director Nerise Moore, from engaging in legal practice.
Ms Moore is not, and has never been, licensed to practice law, said QLS president Bill Potts, and thus represented a “great risk to the reputation of Queensland solicitors and to the clients that had engaged this firm”.
A legal practice must have a senior legal practitioner with a principal practising certificate in the office to be able to provide legal services, he noted.
“Queensland’s 12,000 practising solicitors are qualified and fit to practise, and the actions of those attempting to run a legal practice without the proper certification are a disservice to us all. The society will not stand for any form of fake lawyer endangering the public,” Mr Potts said.
“Ms Moore did not have a practising certificate or a lawyer with a principal practising certificate in the office for a period of time. We took swift action to gain an injunction from the court to protect the public from being provided with unqualified legal advice.”
“This is a timely reminder to beware of where you are getting your legal advice from.”
It is simple to check the authenticity of lawyers in Queensland, Mr Potts said, by contacting QLS.
“As the peak legal body for solicitors in Queensland, we regulate the profession and issue practising certificates,” he said.
“Should you have concerns you are not dealing with a practising solicitor, you can contact us.”
QLS will continue to use its protective jurisdiction to keep law firm clients safe, he added, and ensure the high standards of Queensland’s legal profession are maintained.
“We won’t hesitate to step in to protect our community members from potentially dangerous lawful operation of any business,” he concluded.
“We urge anyone with money in trust at Stenton & Moore to come forward and contact the Law Society.”