Monday, September 5, 2011

Should the financial effects of defending against a disciplinary procedure on the accused attorney be taken into account when deciding the appropriate sanction?

Here is a link to a comment on a recent decision in Australia discussing this question. The court's decision is available here.  If I understand the Australian case correctly, apparently the disciplinary authorities can impose fines on attorneys as a form of discipline.  In this particular case, the Tribunal found that the fine would be "at the lower end of the range" because the attorney was also ordered to cover the state's costs.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I understand that adding the amount the attorney would have to pay in costs and fines might result in a significant expense, but I think the punishment should fit the crime, as the saying goes. If the conduct is particularly bad, the punishment should be harsh.  At least in theory, this is the more effective way to achieve deterrence.

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