An aspiring solicitor with a history of domestic and family violence (DFV) has been refused admission to practise law in Queensland.
The Supreme Court of Queensland in Brisbane this morning dismissed an application from a woman, who can only be identified as RBI, for admission as a legal practitioner under the state’s Legal Profession Act 2007.
The court, comprising Chief Justice Helen Bowskill and Justices Jean Dalton and Elizabeth Wilson, said RBI’s application for admission as a lawyer must be dismissed because it could not be confident she was a fit and proper person to practise.
The court was told the Legal Practitioners Admissions Board (LPAB) had opposed RBI’s admission in a “comprehensive submission” that included details of serious acts of DFV dating back to 2009 and the existence of a current DFV protection order imposed upon her by a magistrate.
The LPAB is responsible for making recommendations to the Supreme Court in respect of applications for admission to the legal profession in Queensland.
The court, in its 12-page decision, documents a series of concerning DFV incidents involving RBI and attacks on former male partners.
“In May 2009 she ‘violently attacked’ her boyfriend, and was charged with two offences of unlawful assault with a circumstance … that it occurred in a domestic relationship,” the court said. “She was convicted of those offences, after a trial, at a Magistrates Court in another State in January 2011.
“In March 2019 (RBI) was named as the respondent to a police protection notice issued under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld).
“The aggrieved was the boyfriend or ex-boyfriend of the applicant, who she says she had been in a relationship with for three years. We will call him X.
“The couple had just relocated from another State to Queensland. X had told the applicant, whilst they were on their way to Queensland, that he no longer wished to be in a relationship with her. It seems the applicant did not accept that the relationship was over.
“On 6 March 2019 (RBI) got into X’s car and would not get out. He drove her to a police station where he asked for a protection order against her. There were allegations of a physical altercation. A protection order was made.
“In December 2019 (RBI) was again physically violent to X. Police were called. The man claimed he had been assaulted and made another protection order application. Police were unable to find the applicant to serve her until March 2020.
“(RBI) says that in the ‘few months’ before December 2019 she frequently contacted X and attended his home. After being served in March 2020 (RBI) says she does not know what happened as she did not attend the (magistrates court) hearing.”
RBI, in support of her admission application, provided affidavits stating she knew that any form physical assault in a domestic setting was unjustifiable.
“I have very good mental health,” the affidavit says. “I had a personality problem in my younger years because I did not have sufficient experience in living at peace.
“I thought that physically attacking my boyfriend was justified for an emotional reason. I now know that any physical assault, especially in a household, is not justified no matter how difficult things become.”
The court unanimously refused RBI’s admission, saying it was not confident she was a fit and proper person to practise law.
“She has offences of violence in another State,” the court said. “They are somewhat dated but there is a worrying similarity between them and the behaviour which took place between her and her then boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, in Brisbane in 2019.
“Although there were not (sic) criminal charges laid as a result of the (RBI’s) behaviour in 2019, she acknowledges that behaviour involved some physical violence. It appears that one, or perhaps two, protection orders were made in Queensland in 2019 and 2020.
“(RBI) says that she does not wish to dig up her past (from 2009).
“However, in a very real sense the behaviour with which this Court is concerned is not in the past. The offending in 2019 is recent, and the history of the protection orders granted in 2019 and 2020 extends to the present.
“(We) cannot feel satisfied even that the history of (RBI’s) offending, and the history of the domestic violence orders made, is complete on the material before the Court. Application for admission as a legal practitioner dismissed.”
Read the decision.