Perth man loses appeal after conviction over offering legal help

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A man who was convicted after advertising online that he could help people prepare for court has lost his appeal.
Ric van der Feltz advertised online that he could “help you prepare to represent yourself in court and with filling out court applications and other court documents and the drafting of affidavits,” a report from 9News reveals.
However, part of the ad is a disclaimer saying he was “not a lawyer and do not give legal advice.” The man said, nonetheless, that he has “an overseas law degree” and that he was keen to help those who may just need guidance through the court system.
Feltz said that this is “where I come in at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer.” But he was found guilty in July 2016 of advertising online that he was entitled to engage in legal practice despite not being an Australian lawyer, 9News notes.
He was consequently fined $2,500 and ordered to pay costs of more than $8,300. He was also granted a spent conviction.
Arguing before the Western Australia Court of Appeal, Feltz said that the time to bring prosecution against him had expired because his advertisement was posted to Gumtree in 2014 and expired in 2015.
Feltz, who represented himself against his conviction and sentence, said that people who claimed to have seen his advertisement in 2015 were wrong.
According to 9News, Justice Stephen Hall dismissed Feltz’s case but agreed with the Legal Practice Board which was against the spent conviction.
“There was no proper basis for concluding that the appellant was unlikely to commit such an offence again,” the judge said, saying Feltz claimed to have learned his lesson but demonstrated in his defence that he does not admit to any wrongdoing.
“The offence was not trivial and the available information did not enable a conclusion to be drawn as to the appellant's good character,” Justice Hall said.
“Far from being an exceptional case, there was no substantial reason why the appellant should be relieved from the normal consequences of his conviction.”

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