Court fines consulting firm boss for acting as ‘solicitor’

The managing partner of a Queensland consultancy was successfully prosecuted by the Legal Services Commissioner in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today for engaging in legal practice when not entitled to do so.

The court was told that Robert Corleone, the Managing Partner of RFC Consulting, represented to the opposing solicitor in a property settlement matter in the Federal Circuit Court that he was the solicitor for the applicant wife.

During a property settlement, Mr Corleone communicated and negotiated with the opposing legal practitioner, made orders to settle, and in a joint statement to the court stated RFC Consulting was the “solicitor for the applicant”, and his “client” was represented by the consulting firm. He also nominated the settlement amount be paid into the “trust” account of his consultancy, providing the consultancy bank account details for payment.

Practising law without the proper qualifications is a criminal offence in Queensland under the Legal Profession Act 2007.

Mr Corleone is not admitted as a legal practitioner in Queensland and RFC Consulting is not a legal practice.

Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon said bringing the action against Mr Corleone as an unlawful operator reinforced the requirement for providers of legal services to be appropriately qualified.

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“Members of the public are entitled to receive the benefit of proper legal advice from qualified and licensed practitioners,” Commissioner Mahon said. “This is especially important given the complex nature of the law and the legal system, and the potentially severe and far reaching consequences a legal outcome may have for an individual, their family or their business.”

Commissioner Mahon also said that “legal practitioners are bound by professional codes of conduct and ethics, have obligations for continued learning, and must have appropriate insurance in place. These protective measures benefit both legal professionals and their clients.”

Mr Corleone pleaded guilty to engaging in legal practice when not entitled to do so.

When sentencing, the court considered Mr Corleone’s circumstances, his remorse, and the serious nature and duration of the offences. The court also considered the general deterrent nature of any penalty imposed, including deterring any re-engaging of the conduct by Mr Corleone.

He was ordered to pay a $2500 fine and the Commissioner’s costs of the proceeding. No conviction was recorded.

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