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- Notable Unreported Decision
 QCA 71
COURT OF APPEAL
Appeal No 53 of 2021
IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION BY
LENNON PETER STATHOULIS FOR
ADMISSION TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION Applicant
MONDAY, 12 APRIL 2021
BRADLEY J: Mr Stathoulis holds the degree Bachelor of Laws from James Cook University. Indeed, the university awarded his degree with honours. In the course of his studies, Mr Stathoulis was given an exemption from undertaking the subject LA3106 Company Law, on the basis that he had completed the subject BX2112 Law of Business Organisations as part of his studies for the degree Bachelor of Business. The decision of the university to exempt him from undertaking the Company Law subject and award a degree on that basis is noted by the Court.
The Board asked Ms Jennifer Sheean to inquire into the matter. The university cooperated in that inquiry by providing documents and information about each of the subjects. Ms Sheean concluded there were differences between the two subjects, particularly in respect of the topic of Statutory Interpretation, so that the subject Law of Business Organisation did not cover the relevant areas of law with the rigor of the Company Law subject. On the basis of Ms Sheean’s evidence, the Court is satisfied that Mr Stathoulis has not attained approved academic qualifications, or corresponding academic qualifications, within the meaning of those terms in the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act). That conclusion is conceded in written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Stathoulis.
For Mr Stathoulis, it was submitted that the Court could exercise power under s 35(3) of the Act to admit Mr Stathoulis as a legal practitioner and impose on him a condition that he complete the missing subject within a stated period of time. Attractive as such a course might appear, it is not within the power of the Court to adopt it. The Court may only admit a person if it is satisfied that the person is eligible for admission, that is, presently eligible.
Section 30(1) of the Act makes clear: a person is eligible only if they hold approved academic qualifications or corresponding academic qualifications. It follows that the Court may not admit Mr Stathoulis as a legal practitioner. It appears that the university has made arrangements to allow Mr Stathoulis to undertake the missing subject with some expedition and at little cost, which seems appropriate given the origin of this impediment. If that is done, Mr Stathoulis will then have attained approved academic qualifications and so be eligible for admission.
RYAN J: I agree.
HOLMES CJ: I agree.
Now, Mr Smart, the Court has ruled then that the applicant is not eligible for admission at this time, and that the Court has no power to make an order for admission, conditional or unconditional. The questions is what should happen next. We have not taken the other step of refusing the application. So, subject to what Ms Timmins has to say about it, it could perhaps simply be adjourned pending the completion of the subject and, possibly, with a view to at that stage – if the Board then gives an non-qualified certificate – having it transferred back to Townsville because then there would not be any problem about admission there. But, can I hear from you, what you say should happen.
MR SMART: I suspect, your Honour, that given this is the second time the matter’s being heard, and the third time it’s been listed for hearing, in terms of compliance with advertising and affidavit of compliance, it may well be procedurally easier to simply start over once the ‑ ‑ ‑
HOLMES CJ: I am sorry. May be procedurally easier ‑ ‑ ‑
MR SMART: It may be procedurally easier to simply start over once the course has been completed. And refile a new application in Townsville rather than trying to move this back to Townsville.
HOLMES CJ: I see. Ms Timmins, have you anything ‑ ‑ ‑
MS TIMMINS: Your Honour, I think either course would be appropriate, in the circumstances.
HOLMES CJ: Yes. All right. Well, then ‑ ‑ ‑
MS TIMMINS: Your Honour, we’ll also cost Mr Stathoulis extra filing fees as well as the Board’s fee if the application is withdrawn and restarted.
HOLMES CJ: Up to you, but ‑ ‑ ‑
MR SMART: Well, if your Honour is willing to make orders today in relation to relieving Mr Stathoulis from further advertising and refiling his compliance material, that would perhaps be the appropriate course. Because otherwise there’d still be those issues outstanding when the matter goes back before Justice North.
HOLMES CJ: Any difficulty about that, Ms Timmins?
MS TIMMINS: No, your Honour.
HOLMES CJ: All right. Very well, then. And this is something I think we can do. We can – the Court will exempt Mr Stathoulis from any requirement to readvertise or file any further affidavit of compliance. He will need a registry transfer back to Townsville once that – what is the best way of doing this practically? Is there a difficulty about the Board dealing – how do you deal with Townsville matters?
MS TIMMINS: Usually we do it on the papers – transfer it back to the regions on papers, your Honour.
HOLMES CJ: And so, that can happen once you are satisfied he is eligible?
MS TIMMINS: Yes, your Honour.
HOLMES CJ: All right. Well, it sounds as if that can happen without too much drama.
MR SMART: Yes. Thank you, your Honour.
HOLMES CJ: And look, I am sorry that it has – this has been the result. And I actually gave some encouragement to the idea of a conditional admission last time because it seemed a possible way out, but it is a matter of statutory construction. So then, the matter then is adjourned on the basis we have discussed, that your client is exempt from any need to advertise further or to file any further affidavit of compliance, and on the Boards [indistinct] that the matter can be transferred back to Townsville once your client has completed the course and does become eligible.
MR SMART: Thank you, your Honour.
HOLMES CJ: Thank you. We will adjourn.
- Published Case Name:
- Shortened Case Name:
 QCA 71
Holmes CJ, Ryan J, Bradley J
12 Apr 2021
- White Star Case: