An aspiring solicitor has been refused admission for failing to fully disclose details of violent wounding offences for which he was jailed.
The Supreme Court in Brisbane last week refused an application for admission under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) by Jashneel Prakash.
The court – comprising Chief Justice Helen Bowskill and Justices Jean Dalton and David Boddice – said Prakash was eligible for admission, but it had concerns he was “not, at present, suitable” and should be refused admission.
“(Mr Prakash) applied … to be admitted to the legal profession,” the court said in a decision published on 15 November 2022. “He is eligible for admission. However, for the following reasons, in the course of dealing with his application, the Court has formed the view that he is not, at present, suitable for admission to the legal profession.”
The court was told on 4 October 2022 that the Legal Practitioners Admissions Board issued Prakash a qualified certificate, recording its recommendation that the applicant had complied with the rules and that he was “a fit and proper person to be admitted, but subject to full disclosure being made to the Court”.
In particular the court sought full disclosure of a number of matters, including Mr Prakash’s history of traffic offences and criminal convictions for stealing, wilful damage, drug offences, breach of bail, trespass and unlawful wounding.
In an affidavit to the court, Mr Prakash, now aged 34, said: “In relation to the offence dated 11/5/2007 (Wounding x 2), this incident occurred when I was 18 years old.
“I was at a party; a fight broke out and resulted in me stabbing another male. I received suspended sentence of 18 months after serving 3 months, and 3 years’ probation. I have been very remorseful for my actions.
“I paid the victim over $20,000 in victims of crime compensation and wrote a letter of apology. After being released from prison in 2008, I have never been charged with another crime. I have dedicated my time to studying, working and family.”
On 10 October 2022, the court listed the matter for consideration, but not before obtaining a copy of the judge’s sentencing remarks pertaining to the wounding offences on 23 May 2008.
The Supreme Court admissions panel noted the sentencing remarks presented a significantly different picture of the events leading to the wounding offences than Mr Prakash’s application affidavit.
Details of the offences of violence are detailed in the court’s nine-page decision, however, QLS Proctor has opted against publishing due to their graphic nature.
“(Mr Prakash’s) failure to fully and frankly disclose the circumstances reveals a lack of appreciation for the importance of the high standards expected of a legal practitioner,” the court said.
“It may be accepted that he is ashamed of his past actions and would rather forget them.
“But in order to persuade the Court as to his suitability for admission (Mr Prakash) needed to demonstrate a complete realisation of his obligation of candour, which he has, at this stage, failed to do.
“The refusal of the application is of course without prejudice to (Mr Prakash’s) ability to make a fresh application at a later time. We do not consider that the mere passage of time will be sufficient to allow the applicant to be admitted on a subsequent application.”
However, the court did suggest that, should Mr Prakash wish to reapply for admission, it would be beneficial if he were to undertake work experience as a law clerk under the supervision of an experienced legal practitioner.
“There are two important aspects to this,” the court said. “The development of insight and understanding of the expectations of a legal practitioner by (Mr Prakash); and the availability of informed evidence from the supervisor to support a finding by the Court as to (Mr Prakash’s) suitability.”
Read the decision.