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Ethics Committee

The Role of the Ethics Committee

  • To assist practitioners in the resolution of ethical dilemmas.
  • To provide a preventative service to practitioners.

Composition of the Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee is made up of past and present members of the LIV Council who serve in a voluntary capacity.

Authority of the Ethics Committee

  • The Ethics Committee is not a court or tribunal.
  • It cannot give legal advice.
  • It cannot decide questions of fact.
  • The Committee’s decisions may be taken into account in determining whether any professional misconduct was wilful or reckless.
  • It can rule on whether, in the Committee’s view, particular conduct is ethical or unethical.
  • Ethics Committee rulings are not legally binding.

Ethics Committee rulings may be taken into consideration in court:

Byrne J, Executive Homes Pty Ltd v First Haven Pty Ltd [1999] VSC 26 (13 July 1999)
Finally, I make mention of the submission of counsel for Coopers & Lybrand, which I found very troubling. He drew my attention to the rulings of the Ethics Committee of the LIV where the position of a solicitor witness was discussed. The Committee was, generally speaking, against the concurrence of these two functions. I pay great weight to this as the considered view of practitioners of repute and experience. It is true, however, that I must, like them, consider the existence and extent of the present and potential conflict as it arises and affects each case.

Requesting a Ruling

Before you request an Ethics Committee ruling, try the following:

  1. Speak to your colleagues! Do not underestimate the value of exploring issues, on a no-names basis if necessary, with others in your office.
  2. Read the common ethical dilemmas section of this site.
  3. Search past rulings.
  4. Refer to the LIV Ethics Hub.
  5. Call the Ethics Advice Line or email your ethical inquiry.

Please note: A request for a ruling may be made by any legal practitioner member of the LIV.

If your dilemma remains unresolved and you wish to request guidance from the Ethics Committee:

  1. Read the Information Sheet on Requesting an Ethics Committee Ruling.
  2. Complete and submit the Ethics Committee Ruling Request form.

Requesting a Rapid Ruling

The Committee usually only provides rapid rulings in the following two limited circumstances:

  1. Where, promptly after having become aware of the relevant ethical issue, the member requests ethical guidance in relation to a court or tribunal matter in which they are due to appear soon.
  2. Where a court or tribunal requests or directs the member instructing counsel, or appearing before it as an advocate, to obtain an urgent ruling from the Committee.

If you meet either of the above requirements for a rapid ruling, please see the following links:

  1. Guideline for Ethics Committee Rapid Rulings
  2. Rapid Ruling Request Form

Ethics & Professional Practice Department

T: 03 9607 9336