A drunken barrister approached a female clerk at a dinner and suggested oral sex. The tribunal found he had not engaged in ‘professional misconduct’, which included ‘conduct … that would … justify a finding that the lawyer is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice’4. The Association appealed.
Inclusive definitions ‘generally – but not always’ expand the ordinary meaning of words5 (it depends on context6). It was held (at ) that common law ‘professional misconduct’ was incorporated into the definition, which then extended to character (not just conduct). Although there was ‘appalling conduct’, it did not justify a finding of unfitness to practice here7.
This principle is from Episode 81 of interpretation NOW!
4 s 297(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW).
6 Cranbrook  NSWCA 155 (at [38-43]) cited, Pearce 9th ed (at [6.8]).
7 Particulars of the conduct in question appear in the judgment.