In 2015 a WA man ran the following advertisement in Gumtree:

No Lawyer No Problem

Represent yourself in court

Do you really need a lawyer? Can you afford a lawyer? Representing yourself maybe ideal for you. If you can talk and think you are half way there. Yes, you may lose and be liable for costs but so can a Lawyer and you’d still be liable for costs.

I can help you prepare to represent yourself in Court and with filling out Court applications and other Court documents and the drafting of affidavits.

I am not a Lawyer and do not give legal advice. I do have an overseas Law Degree and extensive experience representing myself in the Magistrate, District and Supreme Court and the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) in commercial and administrative matters and helped others do the same…..

The advertisement was reported to the Law Society and he was successfully prosecuted under the Legal Profession Act for being a person who was not an Australian legal practitioner, but who represented and advertised that he was entitled to engage in legal practice. He was fined $2500, ordered to pay costs (of around $8000) and a spent conviction order was made. A good (lenient?) outcome in the circumstances I would have thought.

Unfortunately, inevitably perhaps, there was an appeal (and a cross appeal against the spent conviction). One of the grounds of appeal was that he was denied procedural fairness. This led Hall J in the SCWA to make the following observation:

[41] There is a particular irony in the fact that the appellant said that he laboured under a significant disadvantage as a self-represented litigant. This was in contrast to the advertisement in which he claimed to have personal experience and knowledge of the Magistrates Court and that he could help others in this regard. This irony was seemingly lost on the appellant.

I won’t bother you with what subsequently happened in the Court of Appeal.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.


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