Unlicensed solicitor imprisoned for contempt of Court - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Unlicensed solicitor imprisoned for contempt of Court

July 3, 2017

The Supreme Court of Victoria has sentenced an unlicensed solicitor to nine months’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of contempt of Court.

The Court found Mr Cameron Telfer had engaged in legal practice without a current practising certificate in defiance of a 2004 Court order made for a similar offence.

Mr Telfer last held a practising certificate in 1996. He was prevented from renewing his certificate based on an extensive disciplinary record over 20 years. In 2000 he was again refused a practising certificate, but in 2004 was found to have engaged in legal practice. The Supreme Court then ordered he be restrained from engaging in legal practice – an order which remains in force. In 2007 Mr Telfer was again found to have undertaken legal work and received a four-month prison sentence, wholly suspended for 12 months.

In 2016 the Victorian Legal Services Board learned Mr Telfer had been working in a Swan Hill law practice as a probate clerk. The Board found that unknown to his employer, Mr Telfer had undertaken legal work on several client files over a period of two years.

Mr Telfer pleaded guilty to one charge of contempt of Court.

In his decision, His Honour Justice Jack Forrest noted:

‘… I think that a message must be sent to lawyers generally as to the consequences of breaching a court order … lawyers must be seen to uphold the law – not to flagrantly disobey it. ‘

‘I am well satisfied that he has little appreciation or insight as to the seriousness of his conduct, and that in itself means, unfortunately, little remorse or contrition for his actions…’

Mr Telfer was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, with one month to be served immediately. The remaining eight months was suspended for a period of two years. The Court also ordered Mr Telfer to pay the Board’s costs.

For further information, download the Supreme Court decision.