A student awarded a Bachelor of Laws degree has had his admission to the legal profession put on hold because the university he attended gave him credit for a subject that did not meet the “approved academic requirements”.
The Court of Appeal in Brisbane, comprising Chief Justice Catherine Holmes and Justices Soraya Ryan and Thomas Bradley, last week put a conditional hold on the legal career of a young man, who QLS Proctor has opted to identify only as ‘LPS’, until he successfully completes the subject LA3106 Company Law at Townsville’s James Cook University.
The court was told that the university had awarded LPS a Bachelor of Laws degree after incorrectly giving him an exemption for one of his courses.
“(LPS) holds the degree Bachelor of laws from James Cook University,” Justice Bradley said during the admission application hearing. “Indeed, the university awarded his degree with honours.
“In the course of his studies (LPS) was given an exemption from undertaking the subject LA3106 Company Law, on the basis he completed the subject BX2112 Law of Business Organisations as part of his studies for the degree of Bachelor of Business.
“The decision of the university to exempt him from undertaking the Company Law subject and award a degree on that basis is noted by the Court.”
The court was told investigations by Queensland’s Legal Practitioners Admissions Board (LPAB) concluded there were significant differences between the two subjects and that the Law of Business Organisation course did not cover the relevant areas of law with the same rigor as the Company of Law subject.
“On the basis of (that) evidence, the Court is satisfied that (LPS) has not attained approved academic qualifications, or corresponding qualifications, within the meaning of those terms in the Legal Profession Act 2007,” Justice Bradley said. “It follows that the Court may not admit (LPS) as a legal practitioner.”
Justice Bradley noted that James Cook University had now put in place arrangements to allow LPS to undertake the “missing subject” from his degree.
“It appears the university has made arrangements to allow (LPS) to undertake the missing subject with some expedition and at little cost, which seems appropriate given the origin of the impediment,” he said. “If that is done, (LPS) will then have attained approved academic qualifications and so be eligible for admission.”
Both Chief Justice Holmes and Justice Ryan agreed with Justice Bradley.
Chief Justice Holmes said: “The question is what should happen next. It could perhaps simply be adjourned pending the completion of the subject, with a view to at that stage – if the (LPAB) then gives a non-qualified certificate – having it transferred back to Townsville … (for LPS’s) admission there.”
LPAB Secretary Melissa Timmins said the court’s ruling was “appropriate in the circumstances”.