Disciplined Brisbane solicitor “struck off” for practising without a certificate

The president of Queensland’s ‘super tribunal’ has recommended a former Brisbane legal practitioner who continued to hold himself out as a solicitor after his practising certificate was cancelled for professional misconduct be stuck off.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) President Justice Martin Daubney AM, in a recently published decision, found that An “Andrew’’ Bui had engaged in professional misconduct on nine occasions after his practising certificate was cancelled on December 3, 2018, and recommended he be removed from the state’s Roll of Legal Practitioners.

Justice Daubney was told Bui was admitted as a solicitor in July 2000 and held various levels of practising certificates issued by the Queensland Law Society from July 2003.

“From May 2010 until December 2017, (Bui) engaged in practice as sole practitioner under the name or style ‘Benson Lawyers’, based at Inala (25km south-west of Brisbane).

“On 18 December 2017, he was issued with a restricted practising certificate … (and) on 3 December 2018 (Bui) was dealt with by this Tribunal for other disciplinary charges.

“The charges which were brought against him at that time concerned his breach of an undertaking given to the Queensland Law Society relating to the payment of overdue taxes from his trust account, and also his failure to respond to correspondence sent by the Legal Services Commissioner requiring explanation of his conduct.

“At the conclusion of that hearing… (Bui) was found guilty of professional misconduct and it was ordered that his practising certificate be cancelled. As a consequence of that decision, (Bui) has not held a practising certificate since 3 December 2018.’’

QCAT was told that despite that decision Bui continued to hold himself out as a solicitor and had engaged in professional misconduct on nine occasions as a result acting for three ‘clients’ and failing to respond to requirements from the regulator – Queensland’s Legal Services Commission — to provide his explanation about this conduct.

In recommending Bui be struck off for the most recent tranche of misconduct, Justice Daubney said: (Bui’s) wilful flouting of the lawful requirements relating to engaging in legal practice amount to a significant and abysmal failure to observe anything like the standards of competence and diligence required of legal practitioners in this state.”

“And, in any event, his conduct is such as would clearly justify a finding that he is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice.

“Accordingly, the orders of the Tribunal …. in respect to each of (the nine charges) there is a finding (Bui) engaged in professional misconduct … (and) the Tribunal recommends that the name of An Bui be removed from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Queensland.’’

Queensland Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon yesterday (Mar 29) welcomed Justice Daubney’s decision, saying: “These findings against Mr Bui are a timely reminder about the need for lawyers to follow the legislative requirements to hold a current practising certificate authorising them to engage in legal practice before undertaking any legal work or representing themselves as a solicitor.”

“Mr Bui had not applied for a new practising certificate after his previous practising certificate was cancelled by the Tribunal in 2018, following other disciplinary action.

“Despite that cancellation, Mr Bui flagrantly continued to engage in legal practice”, Ms Mahon said.

Highlighting the important protections provided by the licensing framework, Commissioner Mahon said members of the public were entitled to presume that they were receiving legal advice from those qualified and licensed to do so.

“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 without legal services being provided by those lawfully entitled to do so, with the corresponding protections (such as insurance) in place.”

The findings against Mr Bui arose from complaints in three different matters, one in family law and the others in conveyancing matters.

Read QCAT finding here: https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2021/QCAT21-093.pdf

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