Court asks LSC to look at ‘litigation process consultant’

A recent District Court case has resulted in the judge referring a person who identifies as a ‘litigation process consultant’ to the Legal Services Commission, to investigate whether or not s24 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 has been breached.

After delivering judgment in Rich v Auswide Constructions Pty Ltd (No.2) [2020] QDC 330, his Honour Barlow QC DCJ considered the involvement in the matter of Mr Stephen Arulogun.

Mr Arulogun – who has a law degree from QUT and a graduate diploma from the College of Law, but is not admitted to practice in any jurisdiction – had, at the outset of the trial, sought to appear as an advocate on behalf of the plaintiff.

His Honour refused permission for Mr Arulogun to appear, but allowed him to assist the plaintiff as a ‘McKenzie friend’. However, Judge Barlow became concerned at the assistance Mr Arulogun provided, noting in his decision (at 112):

“Mr Arulogun’s role in this trial, his intended representation of Mr Rich as his advocate at trial and, indeed, his purported business as a ‘litigation process consultant’ concern me greatly. It seems to me that, despite denying that he gave any legal advice, his assistance in both preparing for the trial and in the conduct of the trial, all of which he undertook for reward, may well have gone beyond the bounds of non-legal assistance and advice and strayed into practising as only a person admitted to practise as a legal practitioner is entitled to do.”

His Honour invited submissions as to whether or not the matter should be referred to the Legal Services Commission, to allow the commission to decide whether or not Mr Arulogun’s conduct ought to be investigated.

Ultimately, his Honour referred the matter to the commission, noting:

“In the circumstances, although, of course, I do not find that Mr Arulogun, in conducting his practice as a ‘litigation process consultant’, is engaging in legal practice, it does seem to be a matter which, in my view, might warrant investigation and could potentially constitute a breach of s24 of the Legal Profession Act.”1

Footnote
1 Rich v Auswide Constructions Pty Ltd (No.3) [2021] QDC 2, at 32.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m pleased to see the judiciary taking a positive role in protecting litigants from those who may be trying to act as a lawyer in everything but name. We don’t want to walk down the same road as trademark attorneys, where the governing body has effectively found that anyone can act as a trademark attorney, provided they don’t call themselves a “trademark attorney”. We have had to pick up the pieces from charlatans calling themselves variously “trademark professional”, “trademark consultant”, “trademark expert”, etc. who “advised” small businesses on trade marks and left the business in a very poor position. Here’s hoping that the LSC don’t water down s24 in the same way!

  2. Thank you for the article Shane. I hope that the LSC will pick up on the referral, and take steps to protect vulnerable community members who may think that they are getting proper legal assistance and representation.

  3. It will be interesting to see how LSC views this person acting, purporting or otherwise, as a McKenzie friend. I know a few people who talk of the virtues of a McKenzie friend in assisting those unable to afford lawyers. I am aware that McKenzie friends are quite established in places like UK. I wonder how those people acting as a McKenzie friend, ensure that they only give quiet assistance, I presume only with process and procedure, but not legal advice. The lines between the two must be very fine, considering when is giving advice only on procedural things, not legal advice. Interesting issues.

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