I had made a series of complaints against the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner (VLSC) and a Senior VLSC investigator. I complained about having been ‘targeted’ by the VLSC, bullying and harassment, incompetence, failure to communicate, and unnecessary delay. My complaints were not accepted as complaints, nor were they investigated. Instead, the VLSC declared that, “The practitioner’s conduct “…raises concerns about his competence in performing his professional role, and arguably also brings into question his judgement and self-discipline.”
I was the subject of a formal complaint. In 2007 I had complained to a Queensland lawyer (Mr Craig Green) that his mortgage loan strategies were improper and possibly criminal. The lawyer lodged a complaint with the VLSC, but his complaint was summarily dismissed on the basis that my observations were ‘arguable’. Nearly a decade later, the same lawyer lodged a similar complaint after I had taken him to task again over his mortgage loan strategy, but this time the VLSC launched an investigation against me. (It just so happened that, at the time the VLSC commenced this investigation, he was the subject of a complaint I had lodged against him and his staff with the Victorian Ombudsman.)
I had pointed out to the VLSC that the new complaint was simply Mr Green’s recycled complaint from 2007, and that I believed that it was being used as a pretext to erode my resolve in relation to my complaint against the VLSC to the Victorian Ombudsman.
As the ‘investigation’ progressed I could identify various procedural flaws, and I called into question the competence of the investigator (Senior Investigator Luke Priday). Over the months that it took Mr Priday to conduct his ‘investigation’ I communicated to him my dissatisfaction.
Misconduct By VLSC Investigator
Anyone reading the matters I put to Mr Priday (see below) will readily comprehend them as complaints of serious misconduct. As a former Senior Investigator myself, I knew that such complaints should compel Mr Priday to report the matter to a supervisor so that the complaints could be dealt with in an appropriate manner. (Even if Mr Priday did not want to disclose to his supervisor that his competence was being questioned, common-sense should have alerted him to the need to make the disclosure so that the issue would not come back to haunt him in the future, and so self-interest should also have compelled him to report them.)
If Mr Priday did report my observations as formal complaints, then his supervisors and the VLSC will have to account for their conduct (but more on this in future posts).
Complaining Construed As Not Fit To Practise
Eventually Mr Priday appears to have had enough of my complaints, and he decided to do something about it. On 25 May, 2017 Mr Priday emailed me a letter in which he advised,
“…we require a written statement explaining why, despite your detailed conduct, you consider yourself to be a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate.
Your written statement is required by 22 June 2017.”
This was Mr Priday’s way of introducing what appears to have been something of a collaboration between him and Mr Daniel Deeks. I believe that this aparent collaboration was part of misuse of the Practising Certificate renewal process in retaliation for my having complained.
It was only a few days after the deadline of 22 June, 2017 that I received a letter from Mr Daniel Deeks.
The letter was dated 26 June, 2017 and was signed by Mr Michael McGarvie (the VLSC at that time). Mr McGarvie informed me:
“For the reasons outlined in Annexure A to this letter, I have formed the preliminary view that you are not a fit and proper person to hold a certificate, and that your practising certificate should not be renewed for the 2017-2018 practising year. The preliminary view about refusal is made pursuant to section 45 of the Uniform Law.”
Attached to the letter was a document titled ANNEXURE REASONS FOR PROPOSED DECISION, which had been prepared by Mr Deeks. Under the heading “Inappropriate communications with the Commissioner’s Office” Mr Deeks had set out excerpts from the complaint emails I had sent to Mr Priday and Mr McGarvie. To read these communications [CLICK HERE].
Attacking the C0mplainant Makes Sense
It makes sense for the VLSC to attack the complainant when we consider the VLSC’s position.