Next week the high Court will hear argument in two cases.
In the first, Legal Services Board v Gillespie-Jones, the Court will consider an appeal by the Victorian Legal Services Board against a decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal in which it held that where a solicitor misappropriates trust moneys paid to the solicitor by a client to cover the client’s costs of litigation (including fees charged by counsel), a barrister who had been retained by the solicitor to appear for the client was entitled to compensation out of the Fidelity Fund established under the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic) in respect of the barrister’s unpaid fees. As the Legal Services Board succinctly puts it, this has the effect of making the Fidelity Fund the de facto guarantor of the bad debts of solicitors.
In the second, Nguyen v The Queen, the Court will consider an appeal by Dang Khoa Nguyen in criminal proceedings that have already made their way to the High Court on a previous occasion (see R v Nguyen (2010) 242 CLR 491, an appeal involving Dang Khoa Nguyen’s co-accused, Dang Quang Nguyen). At issue is whether the trial judge ought to have left for consideration by the jury an alternative charge of manslaughter (by acting in concert, by extended common purpose, or by aiding and abetting) where the perpetrator had been conceited of murder. A further issue of more general importance is the extent to which a trial judge is entitled to have regard to the manner in which an accused has conducted the defence in determining whether or not to leave an alternative charge for the jury’s consideration.