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LIV to Brouwer: name names


Cite as: (2005) 79(7) LIJ, p. 14

Victorian Ombudsman and Director of Police Integrity George Brouwer has backed away from comments he made at a Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) function that he was aware of examples of lawyers behaving unethically.

Mr Brouwer told more than 150 people at the President’s Luncheon on 18 May that in his role as police integrity officer he had seen instances “where some members of the legal profession are not behaving in accordance with the norms of legal professional ethics”.

“And where in fact information is meant for them it is being traded around the community as free goods.”

LIV CEO John Cain, who was at the luncheon, wrote a letter to Mr Brouwer the next day asking for specific examples of such unethical behaviour by Victorian lawyers.

“I would urge you ... to provide these particulars to me so that we may conduct a full and vigorous investigation,” Mr Cain’s letter read.

In a letter of reply, Mr Brouwer said should he become aware of a failure by members of the legal profession to meet the highest ethical and professional standards, he would refer such matters to the LIV.

Mr Cain said it was important that the LIV clarified Mr Brouwer’s initial comments.

He said he was not surprised Mr Brouwer had chosen an LIV event as the forum to air his views on unethical lawyers.

“The issue is not the fact that questions are raised, the issue is whether there is any substance to them and do they warrant investigation.

“But you have to keep in mind that people charged with serious offences are entitled to be represented and we are 100 per cent supportive of that entitlement.”

Mr Brouwer, who studied law in Melbourne before completing a Master of Laws at the Australian National University, was appointed as Victorian Ombudsman in March 2004. One month later he was appointed as Director of Police Integrity.


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