Notification of offences and 'show cause' events
Solicitors in New South Wales must be ‘fit and proper’ persons to practise the law. As part of gaining and renewing a Practising Certificate all solicitors must disclose the following to the Law Society:
- Convictions for any offence in any jurisdiction (for excluded offences see cl. 4 of the Legal Profession Regulations 2005).
- Being charged with a serious (indictable) offence.
- Any ‘show-cause’ event described in s.4 of the Legal Profession Act 2004, which generally includes:
- conviction of a serious offence
- conviction of a tax offence.
Conviction is defined as a finding of guilt or the acceptance of a guilty plea, whether or not a conviction is recorded.
How to notify the Law Society
To notify the Law Society of a conviction, charge or 'show cause' event:
- Download and complete the appropriate form for your circumstances: either the Notice by a local Practising Certificate holder of a conviction or charge form or the Notice of ‘show cause event’ form
- Send your completed form back to the Professional Standards Department at the Law Society, together with relevant court documentation, within seven days of the conviction, charge or event happening.
- If you are notifying the Law Society about a 'show cause' event, you will also need to provide a written statement explaining why you consider yourself to be a fit and proper person to hold a local Practising Certificate, despite the 'show cause' event, within 28 days after the happening of the event.
What about events that occurred before admission to practice?
When applying for a Practising Certificate you must inform the Law Society of any 'show cause' event which occurred before you were admitted to the legal profession in New South Wales or another jurisdiction. You must also specify whether the event has been disclosed to the Legal Profession Admission Board.
What happens if notification is not provided?
If a solicitor fails to notify the Law Society of a 'show cause' event, he or she has committed professional misconduct. Such failure may lead to refusal to grant, cancellation or suspension of a Practising Certificate.
What happens after notification of a 'show cause' event?
The Law Society Council will investigate the matter to determine whether or not the solicitor is a fit and proper person to hold a Practising Certificate and whether conditions need to be imposed on his or her practise of the law.
The Law Society must take into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the event concerned and must make their decision within three months (s. 68(5) LPA) of ‘becoming aware’ of it.
Need more information?
For a detailed overview of 'show cause' events and a comparison between the Legal Profession Act 2004 and the Legal Profession Act 1997, download Notifications and Disclosures, a paper written by Barrister, Carol Webster.
- Professional Standards Department
- Law Society of NSW
- 170 Phillip Street
- Sydney NSW 2000
- DX 362 Sydney
- T: (02) 9926 0390
- F: (02) 9221 5804
- E: email@example.com