Non-lawyers fined for giving legal advice

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Two men charged with engaging in legal practice despite not being a lawyer, have lost their appeal in a Perth court.

James Dean and Mark Jeffrey Simonsen were charged by the Legal Practice Board in 2012 after they charged a man $5000 for legal assistance and documents, despite not being lawyers.

They both appealed the convictions in the WA Supreme Court but both were dismissed saying the proposed grounds were confusing and difficult to understand.

“The written submissions, including the supplementary submissions, only add to the confusion and incomprehension,” Justice Robert Mazza said, adding that the grounds had no reasonable prospect of succeeding.

Dean was fined $6000 plus costs of $9478 and Simonsen was fined $5000 and costs of $6747.

Dean advised the man, who was going through a divorce, to make his wife’s life “as unpleasant as possible” so the settlement figure would be more favourable.  Dean also advised him to file a violence restraining order against her, an AAP report said.

He also attended a meeting with the couple to assist in settling a property dispute, assisting in preparing annulment documents after he advised the husband put a caveat on the house.

Dean failed to refund the money after told the husband that he no longer wished to be involved in the dispute.
  • Ben Green on 23/05/2016 8:39:51 AM

    If you want to give legal advice: get a law degree, get admitted, learn the profession, continue CPD, pay insurance and certificate, run a trust account. The comment above (18/05/2016) conflates issues and relies on a well worn but inaccurate cliche.

  • Reggie on 20/05/2016 11:22:21 AM

    Mr Noble, feel free to go get yourself some 'legal advice' from someone who does not have any legal qualifications and who is not regulated by a professional body or a statutory authority. Just don't complain to the regulator when your legal matter leaves you without a leg to stand on.

  • Michael Noble on 18/05/2016 11:31:04 PM

    A protected industry where lawyers charge excessively to the point where most working class people cannot afford them. This is just a case of the old boys club protecting their own considering the penalty imposed for a small incursion

  • Howard on 26/04/2016 11:34:41 AM

    I think the suggestion in the above article is that the advice was clearly bad; lawyers who generate incomprehensible submissions are bad news for everyone. The problem with allowing anyone to 'hang out a shingle' and attract business is that a glib, well presented, ignoramus can do immense damage to their clients and the community, but that damage may not be realised until several years after it occurs. By the time it is detected the damage may be impossible to fix.

  • Terry on 26/04/2016 10:04:59 AM

    I read the judgement. A sound decision in every respect. The LPA is designed to protect consumers of legal services from poor advice and the 'advice' given here was determined by the bench to be as described.

  • John Goldberg on 25/04/2016 8:07:36 PM

    The same sort of closed shop presumably that prevents garbage collectors from performing brain surgery. There is good reason for excluding unqualified people from selling legal services. Try incompetence, lack of professional regulation and no insurance for starters.

  • Roger Blow on 23/04/2016 8:49:08 PM

    I'll give you sone good reason for why the restriction is important. As a lawyer I am required, no exceptions allowed, to act in my client's best interests in representing them in litigation. That's a massive obligation, which isn't really mirrored by any other profession other than medicine. Lawyers also have extensive ethics training to further enforce that obligation. Allow people to provide legal 'advice' in the absence of those safeguards and you will have a lot of very unhappy litigants and some significant losses, for which there will be inadequate insurance. Did I mention that we have to maintain extensive insurance as well?

  • Jay Clowes on 22/04/2016 10:38:27 AM

    Agreed, Bernard. It's hard to see this as anything other than protectionism.

  • Bernard ODONNELL on 20/04/2016 6:32:57 PM

    Why isn't it relevant whether the advice was good or bad? When will Australia break the shackles of the "No ticket no start"? We outlawed Union racketeers years ago for such unconscionable conduct in employment representation, many years ago.
    Australia needs a Royal Commission into the provision of legal services in Australia. The present closed shop is crippling our economy

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