‘I’m just a judge, why would anyone pay attention?’
A veteran Gold Coast barrister facing disciplinary charges has copped a strong serve from a judge, who has accused him of insulting the intelligence of tribunal members.
Barrister Chris Rosser was asked to explain why he failed to comply with tribunal directions to provide written submissions in his own defence of 11 disciplinary charges against him.
The Legal Services Commissioner claims Mr Rosser has previously acted in a way that was "dishonest or discreditable''.
The LSC has asked that he be struck off for professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal president, Justice Martin Daubney, criticised Mr Rosser's "regrettable attitude'' and his "very serious wilful failure'' to comply with directions.
Justice Daubney said as well as ignoring directions made in his presence in November, to file written submissions before today's hearing, he had previously ignored other directions.
The judge, who at one stage twice thumped the bench while making a point, said he was gravely concerned by the evidence of Mr Rosser, a barrister since the 1990s.
"What does it matter? I'm just a Supreme Court judge and this is just Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal,'' Justice Daubney said to Mr Rosser.
"Why would anyone pay any attention to the directions of a Supreme Court judge for the orderly progress of the matter?''
Mr Rosser at first said he had assumed his legal team would have filed written submissions on his behalf, based on his previous responses, but then he accepted he had been negligent.
When questioned by his own legal counsel, Anthony Morris QC, Mr Rosser admitted he had been sent the LSC's submissions, but had not instructed his solicitor to write a response.
Tribunal member Douglas Murphy QC told Mr Rosser it was illogical to think a barrister facing disciplinary proceedings would not be interested enough to given proper instructions to his legal team.
"You as a barrister sit there and mouth an explanation that you assumed that previous responses filed somehow magically morphed into written submissions to comply with directions of this tribunal,'' Justice Daubney said.
"That is insulting to the intelligence of this tribunal… I remind you, you are an officer of the court, Mr Rosser.''
The LSC says Mr Rosser operated Gold Coast Legal Advisory Service, which was not a registered law firm, from his bar chambers.
He appeared in a video on the service's website, dressed as a barrister, suggesting people talk to "them'' before making any arrangement with any law firm.
The LAS website home page said: "Chris Rosser, Barrister of Law, recommends talking to Legal Advisory before seeking any other law firm for various matters and court appearances.''
The LSC claims Mr Rosser used his professional qualification as a barrister for the advancement of the LAS, which he was directly engaged in for private advantage.
Mr Rosser told the tribunal last year he used LAS and his professional qualifications as a barrister to attract civil case clients, but denied he intended to convey it was a law firm..
He said LAS consisted of himself, his then law clerk Jacob Reichman and a secretary.
Some disciplinary charges relate to him allowing Mr Reichman, who was not a legal practitioner, to appear in court and attend police interviews for his cases.
In 2016, Reichman was convicted and fined $1500 for engaging in legal practice on 12 occasions, when he was not a legal practitioner.
Mr Rosser offered to give an undertaking to not renew his practising certificate at the end of the year, but counsel for the LSC, Deborah Holliday, said the undertaking was "worthless''.
The tribunal reserved its decision, after Justice Daubney said Mr Rosser's evidence regarding his failure to comply with directions would be considered in relation to his fitness to practice.