List member Peter Hastie QC appeared for the Applicant in Re Benchemam  QCA 65.
The Legal Practitioners Admissions Board (‘the Board’) opposed the Applicant’s application to become a legal practitioner under s 31 and s 9 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld), which require an applicant to be of good fame and character. The board’s reasons concerned the applicant’s dealings with Centrelink, the late lodgement of income tax returns and her dealings with the Board in relation to those matters.
The overpayment by Centrelink had come about because the applicant failed to notify Centrelink of extra income, at least in part due to confusion arising between her and her mother as a result of her youth allowance being paid to her mother. Once aware of the overpayment, the applicant repaid it in full.
The overpayment by Centrelink had been disclosed in her application. The late income tax lodgement had not, but was identified through material freely supplied by the Applicant in the course of her explaining the Centrelink overpayments.
Davis J noted that the failure to lodge tax returns can be very serious. However, his Honour said, this was an example of young person on limited income misunderstanding her obligations. The Australian Tax Office in fact owed her a refund and did not penalise her for the late lodgement.
Davis J referred to the submission of the Board which said the Applicant had been “seriously careless, at best”, observing that it suggested some inference worse than carelessness was open and the obvious worse position was dishonesty. His Honour held that if the Board considered that a finding of dishonesty was open it should say so forthrightly and explain with full particularity why that was so. The submission was withdrawn.
The Applicant had been employed as a law clerk by a set of Barristers’ chambers since 2014 and one of the Barristers had sworn an affidavit in support of her. This was accorded particular significance by Davies J, who stated that as a Barrister he would be well aware that supporting such an application was a serious matter.
Bond J and Sofronoff P agreed with Davis J and the Applicant was duly admitted.
See judgment here: https://www.sclqld.org.au/caselaw/QCA/2018/065