Petition Closed
Petitioning Parliament of Australia - Senate Parliament of Australia - Senate

Provide Australians with unbiased and effective legal disciplinary bodies.

 Australians desperately need legal disciplinary bodies that are genuinely unbiased to deal with complaints about lawyer misconduct. The current disciplinary processes are often structured to protect abusers rather than consumers, and there is a desperate need to institute reforms that streamline the disciplinary process, impose meaningful punishments and protect the rights of consumers. When a Legal Services Commission or other lawyer disciplinary body in Australia does impose disciplinary measures, more often than not it takes the form of a minor, secretly dispensed reprimand. And on the rare occasion when a hearing regarding a lawyer's ethical violations does occur, the judge and jury consist of fellow lawyers rather than judges or lay persons, and the resultant institutional bias renders the system ineffective.

more to come - for now see
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/a-law-unto-themselves-how-legal-eagles-like-their-independence-20100527-whhi.html

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/policing-the-lawyers-the-balance-between-procedure-and-fairness-20110429-1e0od.html

http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/blogs/top_stories/archive/2009/09/22/systematic-failure-by-victorian-legal-services-commissioner.aspx

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/human-rights-2/the-victorian-injustice-system/

And if you like this petition you may also like these ones:

http://www.change.org/petitions/attorney-general-for-australia-remove-advocates-immunity

and

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/truth-in-justice-reform-adversarial-legal-system-to-i.html

 

 

 

 

Letter to
Parliament of Australia - Senate Parliament of Australia - Senate
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Parliament of Australia - Senate.

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TO THE HONOURABLE PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE IN PARLIAMENT

We, the undersigned concerned citizens, petition Parliament to provide Australians with disciplinary bodies that are genuinely unbiased to deal with complaints about lawyer misconduct. The current disciplinary processes are often structured to protect abusers rather than consumers, and there is a desperate need to institute reforms that streamline the disciplinary process, impose meaningful punishments and protect the rights of consumers.

When a Legal Services Commission or other lawyer disciplinary body in Australia does impose disciplinary measures, more often than not it takes the form of a minor, secretly dispensed reprimand. And on the rare occasion when a hearing regarding a lawyer's ethical violations does occur, the judge and jury consist of fellow lawyers rather than judges or lay persons, and the resultant institutional bias renders the system ineffective.

Lawyers occupy a position of special trust in our society. When they violate that trust, they should face swift and serious consequences, and consumers should have the right to know about any such violations. Therefore we urge you to legislate for all legal disciplinary bodies to adopt the practices below:
1. Provide ordinary citizens with a majority voice on the panels that decide lawyer misconduct cases;
2. Develop a ‘lawyer complaints’ points system (including complaints that were dismissed by past or current disciplinary bodies) along the lines used for drivers’ licences for determining eligibility for lawyers to be on any legal disciplinary body (including the new National Legal Services Board) to reduce incidences of corruption;
3. Reviews of decisions rejecting complaints to be carried out by bodies genuinely independent from those that rejected the complaints, as a safeguard against the culture of lawyer-bias that the statistics indicate exists in most if not all of the current legal disciplinary bodies;
4. Disclose lawyers’ complete disciplinary histories so that consumers can make informed decisions when hiring a lawyer;
5. Discipline lawyers with formal, serious and public measures;
6. Permanently disbar lawyers who commit abusive practices against clients;
7. Abolish gag rules that prevent people from speaking publicly about complaints they've filed;
8. Open lawyer disciplinary hearings to everyone to increase transparency;
9. Publicize the availability of lawyer discipline programs through client notification and local advertising;
10. Host a user-friendly Web site that is easy to find and provides information about the disciplinary process;
11. Grant clients and witnesses immunity from civil liability for any information given to the agency during a disciplinary investigation;
12. Ensure that decisions relating to fidelity funds are made by bodies genuinely independent of the legal profession;
13. All communications held by lawyer disciplinary bodies regarding client complaints should be made accessible to the client so that the client may counter any false claims made by the lawyer;
14. The National Legal Services Board to be supplied with all data re past complaints so as to prevent corrupt lawyers from starting with a clean slate;
15. The National Legal Services Board to audit all State legal disciplinary bodies so that any statistical anomalies can be investigated.

Lawyers are sworn to uphold the law; they should not be above the law. We, the undersigned concerned citizens, therefore ask Parliament to provide Australians with lawyer disciplinary bodies that are genuinely unbiased, by adopting the practices outlined above.



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Sincerely,