Friday, March 11, 2005

Barristers keep immunity to lawsuits

The High Court has handed down a decision which grants immunity for barristers and solicitor-advocates from being sued, however negligent their conduct. For the complete text of the judgement, refer to D'Orta-Ekenaike v Victoria Legal Aid [2005] HCA 12 link.

In this news report, the Victorian Bar Council chairman Ross Ray, QC, was quoted to have lauded the decision:
"It's not a decision to protect the advocate, it's a decision to protect the justice system," he said.

"The beneficiary of this is the administration of justice." [emphasis mine]

A little background: a man is was trying to sue his lawyers for allegedly giving negligent advice on a rape charge, which ended up with him being convicted and jailed. (Before you get worked up, these lawyers are good guys - they're from LegalAid).

Personally, I agree with the opinion of the dissenting judge Kirby J. I fear that while oiling the engines of the administration of justice, if the legal system is not seen to dispense justice, it will only serve to weaken the institution itself. Ultimately, an institution is made up of only people. It's authority is only derived by the respect of other people have for it.1 Ironically, it is now up to legislators to act to protect the justice system.

1Witness how the IRA has gone from being the defender of the Catholics to being the pariah of society in such quick time.

Links to other opinions on this topic:
FLAC, Barristerial Immunity , 2004
Richard Ackland, Majority Ruling gives Minnows Little Chance


Post a Comment

<< Home