Search




Urgent ethical guidance for members


Barristers may require urgent ethical guidance such as during an adjournment at court. Barristers are reminded of the current system in place which is available to members of the association allowing for assistance over the telephone.

1.      Barristers may telephone senior counsel currently serving on the association’s professional conduct committees. The names and telephone numbers of senior counsel can be obtained by telephoning the association’s Professional Conduct Department: call 9232 4055.

2.      As soon as practicable after speaking with senior counsel, if the barrister wishes to have a record of his or her discussion with senior counsel, he or she should send a letter to senior counsel recording the facts and the guidance given.

3.      A copy of the letter may also be sent to the director, professional conduct.  However, any decision and all responsibility is that of the individual barrister. The role of senior counsel is to provide an opportunity for discussion to assist members in reaching a conclusion, not to give advice or a ‘ruling’.

A previous system for providing ‘ethics rulings’ to barristers (both urgently and non-urgently) was reviewed by the Bar Council some time ago and is no longer in place.

Section 81 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 provides:

(1)   Practice as a barrister is subject to the barristers rules.

(2)   Practice as a barrister is not subject to any other rules, practice guidelines or rulings of the Bar Association or Bar Council.

Ethical guidance in non-urgent circumstances

Members requiring ethical guidance in non-urgent circumstances may contact senior counsel on the association’s professional conduct committees.

The names of senior counsel currently serving on the association’s professional conduct committees can be obtained:

  1. from the Bar Association’s web site
  2. by contacting the association’s Professional Conduct Department: call 9232 4055

As with urgent matters, if the barrister wishes to have a record of their discussion with senior counsel, he or she should send a letter to senior counsel recording the facts and the guidance given. 

A copy of the letter may also be sent to the director, professional conduct. However, any decision and all responsibility is that of the individual barrister. The role of senior counsel is to provide an opportunity for discussion to assist members in reaching a conclusion, not to give advice or a ‘ruling’.

In matters in which a conflict of interest or potential breach of confidentiality is alleged, members should always err on the side of caution.

When there is any practical potential for breach of Barristers’ Rule 107, consideration of the matter should always begin with the view that the brief should be returned.

Members should, of course, make themselves familiar with the New South Wales Barristers’ Rules.