Register of disciplinary action - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Register of Disciplinary Action

What is the Register of Disciplinary Action (RODA)?

The RODA is a register which lists disciplinary action taken against Australian legal practitioners. Sections 4.4.26 and 4.4.27 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) require the Board to maintain the RODA and make it available for public inspection on the Board’s website.

(For information on action taken against non-lawyers (disqualified persons), please see the Non-lawyer Disciplinary Action page.)

What disciplinary action does the RODA contain?

The RODA includes disciplinary action from 1 April 1959 taken under:

  • the 2004 Act;
  • the Legal Practice Act 1996 (the 1996 Act);
  • the Legal Profession Practice Act 1958 (the 1958 Act); and
  • a corresponding interstate law against a practitioner who, at the time of the conduct (that resulted in the disciplinary action), was admitted or practising in Victoria.

In addition, the RODA includes:

  • disciplinary action involving a finding of misconduct at common law (Judge-made law); and
  • decisions made by the Victorian Supreme Court, pursuant to its inherent jurisdiction, removing practitioners’ names from the Victorian roll (strike-off).

Disciplinary action taken under the 2004 Act

Disciplinary action taken under the 2004 Act falls within two categories.

The first category of disciplinary action includes an order by a court or tribunal for, or following a finding of, ‘professional misconduct’ or ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’. Where a court or tribunal has not made an express finding of the type of conduct, the conduct  is categorised in accordance with the definitions of ‘professional misconduct’ or ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’ under the 2004 Act.

The second category of disciplinary action includes that taken by a relevant body (e.g. the Board, the Law Institute of Victoria or the Victorian Bar) subsequent to a finding by a court or tribunal of professional misconduct. This includes one or more of the following actions:

  • removal of a practitioner’s name from an Australian roll (strike-off);
  • suspension of an Australian practising certificate;
  • cancellation of an Australian practising certificate;
  • refusal to grant an Australian practising certificate;
  • refusal to renew an Australian practising certificate;
  • appointment of a receiver of all or any of a practitioner’s property;
  • appointment of a manager of a practitioner’s practice.

The RODA will only display the appointment of a receiver or manager where the appointment follows a finding by a court or tribunal of professional misconduct against a practitioner. Most appointments of Receivers or Managers in Victoria arise from Board decisions to intervene because of evidence of incapacity, inadequacy or incompetence by a practitioner in the absence of, or prior to, any court finding involving conduct. The 2004 Act does not permit interventions in this category to be published on the RODA.

Disciplinary action taken under the 1996 Act

Under the 1996 Act, disciplinary action includes ‘misconduct’ and ‘unsatisfactory conduct’.

Disciplinary action taken under the 1958 Act

Under the 1958 Act, disciplinary action includes conduct amounting to misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct.

Disciplinary action taken under a corresponding interstate law

Disciplinary action taken under a corresponding interstate law will only appear on the RODA if, at the time of the offending conduct, the practitioner:

  • was admitted to legal practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria; or
  • held a local (Victorian) practising certificate.

For all other interstate disciplinary decisions, you may wish to contact the regulatory body in the relevant jurisdiction or search their online disciplinary register (available in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia).  For links to interstate regulatory bodies, please view the links page.

What information appears on the RODA?

  • the full name and any known aliases of the person against whom the disciplinary action was taken;
  • the person’s current or last known address for service (where known);
  • the person’s date(s) and jurisdiction(s) of admission to the legal profession;
  • the jurisdiction in which the person currently holds a practising certificate;
  • the person’s law practice or employer (where known). Note that this does not mean that the law practice or employer was in any way involved or connected with the person’s conduct.
  • particulars of the disciplinary action taken against the person (including details relating to the court/tribunal order, findings, penalties, and any subsequent disciplinary action taken by a relevant body); and
  • citations and/or hyperlinks to court/tribunal orders and decisions (where available).

Please note that a finding displayed as ‘other’ indicates that the Board may not have information pertaining to the court/tribunal order. If the entry in question relates to an interstate disciplinary action, you may wish to contract the relevant jurisdiction to obtain further information.

What information does not appear on the RODA?

The following disciplinary action does not appear on the RODA:

  • disciplinary action for which the appeal period has not lapsed, or for which an appeal has  been lodged;
  • decisions made pursuant to an interstate Supreme Court’s inherent jurisdiction;
  • disciplinary action which is the subject of a non-publication order by a court or tribunal;
  • interstate decisions where the practitioner was not admitted to legal practice in Victoria or did not hold a Victorian practising certificate at the time that the offending conduct occurred (see above); and
  • disciplinary action taken more than 5 years ago which is no longer in effect.

Disciplinary action that will appear on the RODA will only relate to suspensions or cancellations of certificates arising from a court order following a misconduct finding. Decisions made by the Board, the Bar or the LIV to suspend or cancel a practitioner’s practising certificate will not appear on the RODA.

The RODA will also not display all instances where a court has appointed a receiver or the Board has appointed a manager. These will only appear on the RODA if they arise from a finding of professional misconduct against a practitioner by a court or tribunal. If a law practice has been placed in receivership or a manager appointed, this will be listed in the practice’s entry under the Register of Legal Practitioners and Law Practices.

Disciplinary decisions not appearing on the RODA may, in some cases, be available on the Austlii website or under the RPA News blog. The Legal Services Commissioner publishes matters on RPA News under its statutory role to educate lawyers about issues of concern to the legal profession. Matters under appeal will be indicated .

To find out if a lawyer holds a current Victorian practicing certificate, you can search the Board’s Register of Legal Practitioners & Law Practices. Please note, not all cancellations or non-renewals arise from conduct or disciplinary issues.

How long is information kept on the RODA?

Information will appear on the RODA for five years after the disciplinary action is taken, or, if the disciplinary action has effect for more than 5 years, for the period that the disciplinary action has effect.

How do I search the RODA?

The RODA can be searched in a number of ways. Individual practitioners can be searched alphabetically by surname, by any other names and by their law practice or employer at the time the conduct that is the subject of the disciplinary action occurred. Additionally, a search can be conducted by the type of sanction or penalty. A search of ‘All penalties/sanctions’ will list all disciplinary actions on the RODA.

Disclaimer

The Board is required to maintain the RODA under the Act to meet its objective of protecting consumers of legal services. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information on the RODA is correct at the time of publication, the Board is reliant on information provided by the courts, tribunals, local regulators and interstate authorities. The Board does not accept any liability for any loss or damage that may result from reliance on the RODA and any error, omission or defect in the information contained therein.

Persons who are the subject of disciplinary action required to be included on the RODA may be eligible to apply to a court/tribunal for non-publication of the order, and may wish to seek independent legal advice on this matter.

 

Last modified September 13, 2015.