A NSW-based law student who commenced proceedings against the state’s admission board, claiming over $64,000 in damages, has seen his latest application for costs dismissed.
The law student, whom Lawyers Weekly has opted not to name, previously brought proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW seeking orders for specific performance, damages worth $64,667 and a declaration for a breach of trust because the Legal Profession Admission Board had not allowed him to undertake his law subjects in the order he wanted to.
He sought to quash the decision of the LPAB, as he believed the course outline “prevented him from undertaking some subjects in the order that he wishes”.
In late April of this year, Supreme Court Justice Richard Cavanagh said the student was not entitled to any of the orders being sought, dismissed the summons and ordered that he pay the LPAB’s costs.
His honour granted liberty to the parties to apply for a different costs order, which the law student subsequently did.
In an affidavit dated three days after his honour’s orders, the student attached a letter dated 18 October 2019 from the Crown Solicitor’s Office, on behalf of the LPAB, which set out terms of an offer from LPAB to the student, including that he should discontinue the proceedings and that LPAB would bear its own costs and not enforce earlier costs orders.
The LPAB had further pointed out “some of the difficulties” with the claim being brought by the student, and suggested “he would be better served” by enrolling in summer classes for Contracts and Constitutional Law rather than await the determination of the summons, and that it could relax rules to enable him to enrol in those subjects despite his failure to sit for examination in the subjects the year prior.
The student did not accept this offer at the time, but instead relied on it in the current proceedings as a basis on which LPAB should be paying his costs.
He alleged, the court noted, that the offer “was an attempt to bribe him”.
Justice Cavanagh: “I observed in my primary judgment that there was a common thread in the plaintiff’s approach. I was referring to the plaintiff’s tendency to make unsubstantiated allegations about the conduct of persons involved in his matter.”
“The plaintiff’s suggestion that the defendant’s offer was an attempt to bribe him is another example of the plaintiff failing to adhere to a standard of conduct which should be expected of a student-at-law. There is no basis for the plaintiff’s submission. It is rejected,” his honour held.
The student further submitted that LPAB had “not acted as a model litigant”. His honour said there was no basis for this submission insofar as it related to the costs issue.
Justice Cavanagh ultimately determined that the student’s submissions and affidavit provided no basis for an alteration to the costs order made in late April. As such, his application for costs was rejected.