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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Re Stephen [1837] NSWSupC 11

legal practitioners, admission to practice - legal practitioners, convict attorneys - convict attaint, legal practice - legal practitioners, education in New South Wales

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling A.C.J., and Burton and Kinchela JJ, 4 March 1837

Source: Sydney Herald, 6 March, 1837[ 1]

The Attorney-General moved - that Mr. G. M. Stephen might be admitted an Attorney of the Supreme Court.  The learned Gentleman said, that under the particular circumstances of the case, he thought the Court might waive the general rule.  Mr. Stephen had been five years Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court at Van Diemen's Land, and in July last, had entered in to articles of Clerkship with his brother, the late Mr. Francis Stephen, whose managing clerk he was, at the time of his death, and, from the great number of cases which his brother was entrusted with, it would be greatly to the interest of the clients if Mr. Stephen were admitted.  Mr. Stephen had testimonials of his ability form the Attorney-General, and the greater portion of the bar, at Van Diemen's Land.  He had also an affidavit from Mr. Dillon, which stated, that in consequence of the sudden death of his father, he had been admitted an Attorney of the Court of King's Bench, Dublin, before his articles of Clerkship had expired.

The Chief Justice said that the Court could not accede to the application: by Act of Parliament, a young man must serve five years before he could be admitted.  Although, in this Colony, the clerks who had been in the Supreme Court five years were admitted, they had no knowledge that it was so in Van Diemen's Land, and if it were, it would not alter the case, for it had been held that an Attorney of the Courts of Van Diemen's Land, who was not an attorney of the Courts at home, was not entitled to practise in that Court.



[ 1] See also Sydney Gazette, 7 March 1837. At the end of 1837, the Supreme Court ordered that convict clerks were no longer to be allowed in solicitors' offices: Sydney Gazette, 30 December 1837.

In 1836, Governor Bourke tentatively suggested that locally educated people may be sufficiently well qualified to be called to the Bar, to be controlled by Rules made by the Supreme Court: Bourke to Glenelg, 3 February 1836, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. 18, 289.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University