Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Media statement from Slater and Gordon VIA Michael Smith

I don't know if this statement is meant to satisfy Slater and Gordon's obligations to the ASX, or to its shareholders, or to its obligations to its partners, or to the court or to its clients.
I was always taught that the obligation to professional legal privilege was dissolved when the practitioner was aware of a criminal offence.
November 27, 2012

Media statement re: AWU matter

This statement is issued in response to questions posed by journalists in many forms which essentially can be summarised as per below:

Why did Slater & Gordon not notify either the police or its then client the AWU of information concerning the AWU Workplace Reform Association when it learnt of allegations of misconduct by its other client Mr Bruce Wilson in August 1995?

Slater & Gordon has consistently maintained, and still maintains, that at all times it has acted in accordance with its legal and ethical obligations in relation to all aspects of the AWU matter.

Given the repeated publication of the question above Slater & Gordon has obtained independent legal advice from Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL) and Mr Philip Crutchfield SC. The firm received this advice yesterday evening.

Without waiving any of the former clients', or Slater & Gordon’s privilege to maintain the confidentiality of the communications between it and the firm’s independent legal advisers, that independent advice has confirmed that Slater & Gordon was (and is) not permitted to divulge confidential and privileged information of one client to another client or any other party.

Further, in circumstances where a conflict arises between two existing clients Slater & Gordon was obliged to, and did cease acting for, both.

For the avoidance of doubt in relation to the AWU matter:

a) Slater & Gordon acted for both a union and a union official (personally).

b) in acting for the official, Slater & Gordon obtained information:
i). that was confidential to the official; and
ii) the disclosure of which to the union would have represented a conflict between the interests of the union and the interests of the official.

c) Slater & Gordon ceased acting for both clients after it became aware of this conflict situation.

As such the advice of both ABL and Mr Crutchfield SC has confirmed that Slater & Gordon was not and is not permitted to disclose the confidential information of the official to the union or anyone else.

Senior counsel and ABL have confirmed that Slater & Gordon acted appropriately by ceasing to act for all parties.  
This was the letter from the incoming AWU boss about the discovery of the matters to which Slater and Gordon refers.   Note the fraud and police charges.
 How could Slater and Gordon, a partnership of people who knew of relevant details about Wilson's commission of serious indictable offences, fail to report that knowledge to police?  As a direct result of the union's ignorance about the assets (including cash) held in accounts and entities' (including the AWU-WRA) bearing the AWU's name, the AWU suffered financial loss during the next 8 months.   The AWU-WRA, the Construction Industry Fund and the real property at 1/85 Kerr Street Fitzroy (financed by the conversion of stolen money laundered by Slater and Gordon) were all liquidated and the money was lost to the union.
Slater and Gordon can pay for and publish all the opinions from their learned friends that money can buy.   Most reasonable people know right from wrong.  This was wrong.


Media statement from Slater and Gordon VIA Michael Smith