A Newcastle lawyer last week told a Royal Commission how he covered up child sex abuse in order to protect the Anglican Church.
The revelation raises concerns about the legal industry and the ethical and professional standards for lawyers.
When the Commissioner into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse asked the lawyer if he knew it was a criminal offence for him not to report suspected ch
ild sex abuse, he responded with “we were all aware.”
Lawyers are bound by the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 and the Legal Services Commission.
Griffith Law School Ethics lecturer, Ms Zoe Rathus AM stated when lawyers find themselves in situations where there is a conflict of interest or they suspect a crime to be taking place, it is important for them to use the resources available to them.
“Careful reflection, advice from more senior colleagues, and consideration of the Code of Conduct, cases, law and disciplinary judgements should all be utilised,” Ms Rathus said.
Law schools are placing a heavy emphasis on ethics in their curriculum, however, Ms Rathus believes it’s clinical placements, like that conducted at Griffith Law School, that teach students how best to be ethical lawyers.
“Clinical courses, where our students are on placement in real legal environments, provide an opportunity to reflect on ethical practice” she said.
If this story has raised any issues or concerns with you regarding sexual abuse you can seek support on 1800 Respect (737 732).