Not Fit and Proper

Posted on Apr 26, 2021 | 0 comments


We know from last month’s post that prior work experience as a male prostitute and pleading guilty to sex charges doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t a fit and proper person to practise as a lawyer. However, making misrepresentations to the Bar Association about your address & the location of your principal place of practice is in a different category.

In 2008 and 2009, Mr Siggins sat and failed the NSW Bar Exams (which are a pre-requisite to getting a NSW practising certificate). Not to be deterred, Mr Siggins decided to implement “plan B” and obtained a practising certificate in Tasmania (where I assume there are, or were, no exams).  Then for the following six years (2011-2017) he held a Queensland practising certificate while he practised as a barrister from chambers in New South Wales. Each application to the Bar Association of Queensland during that period included a representation by Mr Siggins to the effect that Queensland would be his principal place of practice for the next 12 months.

This eventually came to the notice of the NSW Bar Association and he was summonsed for an interview with the executive director and the matter was not resolved. The matter ultimately found its way into the NSW Court of Appeal (Council of the New South Wales Bar Association v Siggins [2021] NSWCA 40).

The main issue was not whether the misrepresentations about the place of practice had been made or not, but rather whether they were made dishonestly.

Of course raising constitutional issues about the validity of parts of the Legal Profession Act, the “rules of postage” (i.e. the misrepresentation was made in either QLD or Tasmania and not in NSW where the application was sent from) and generally denying dishonesty didn’t really help.

Mr Siggins was found to not be fit and proper and his name is no longer on the roll of practitioners.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph

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