Court quashes teacher’s legal career dream
A FORMER Territory teacher has been barred from applying for admittance to practice law anywhere in Australia after pulling out of a bid to join the profession in the NT.
Ferg Ferguson - formerly known as Stephen - had applied to be admitted as a legal practitioner but following an objection by the NT Law Society was forced to justify the move in the Supreme Court.
After four days of hearings - including a grilling under cross examination by Law Society barrister Mary Chalmers - Mr Ferguson "(fell) on his sword" and "admitted that he is not a fit and proper person" to be a lawyer.
He filed a second application last week formally seeking leave to back out of his fledgling legal career.
"I have reflected on the hearing of this matter and have reached the conclusion there are unlikely to be reasonable prospects that the court will be able to find that I am a fit and proper person to be admitted to practice," he wrote.
In granting the second application, Justice Stephen Southwood said Ferguson was "wise" to shelve his dream of fronting the bar table, ruling he was "at risk of being found to have lied to the court".
While neither consenting nor objecting to Mr Ferguson's application to withdraw, the Law Society argued the public should be informed where aspiring lawyers were "not candid in affidavits" or "lie to the court" and were refused permission to practise.
In handing down his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Southwood said while there was "some force in the Law Society's submission", Mr Ferguson "now recognises he is not a fit and proper person to be admitted as a legal practitioner".
"(The society argued) that a substantive decision in this proceeding (would) send a message to all potential applicants that their duty of honesty and candour and their duty not to mislead the court are paramount values - that without them a person is not a fit and proper person to be admitted as a legal practitioner or a lawyer," he said.
"(However) our community will be protected by making it a condition of leave to discontinue that the applicant shall not reapply to be admitted as a lawyer or a legal practitioner in the NT, nor shall he apply to be admitted as a lawyer or legal practitioner in any other territory or state in Australia and these conditions of discontinuance may be pleaded as a bar to any such application."
Originally published as Court quashes Territory teacher's legal career dream