The New South Wales Bar Association conducts an Ethical Guidance Scheme whereby barrister members can seek urgent ethical guidance. The Scheme operates in the following manner:
Barristers may contact, by telephone, senior counsel currently serving on the Bar Association’s Professional Conduct Committees.
The names and telephone numbers of senior counsel can be obtained by telephoning the Bar Association’s Professional Conduct Department on (02) 9232 4055. A staff member from the Professional Conduct Department will have an initial discussion with the barrister seeking guidance in order to determine where the query is best directed.
If the barrister wishes to have a record of the discussion with senior counsel, he or she should send a letter to senior counsel as soon as is practicable, recording the facts and the guidance given. A copy of the letter to senior counsel may also, if the barrister wishes, be sent to the Professional Conduct Department by email to email@example.com.
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 legal advice or a 'ruling'. A previous system for providing ‘ethics rulings’ to barristers was reviewed by the Bar Council some years ago and is no longer in place.
Members should make themselves familiar with the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015. The rules are available on the Bar Association’s website on the Uniform Law page and the New South Wales legislation website.
There is no provision in the current rules for the Bar Council or President to waive compliance with any rule.
A reader requiring urgent ethical guidance should contact his or her tutor/s in the first instance. Readers should seek ethical guidance through this scheme only where tutors are unavailable, or where following a discussion with the tutors, additional guidance is required.
If a barrister has any further questions about the Ethical Guidance Scheme, please contact the Bar Association’s Professional Conduct Department on (02) 9232 4055 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.