ARITA successfully contests access to conduct files

ARITA was recently served with a subpoena seeking access to all conduct files of a former member in relation to proceedings in entirely unrelated matters.

Regardless of whether the proceedings were related or not, ARITA immediately sought to resist the subpoena on the basis that it would compromise all future conduct processes. The plaintiffs to the proceedings also sought to set aside the subpoenas issued to ARITA and other professional associations.

In Jason Tang and Ozem Kassem in their capacity as joint and several liquidators of Elite Plant Hire P/L (in liq) v MECON Winsure Insurance Group P/L [2020] NSWSC 441 Stevenson J agreed with ARITA’s position that the Insurer was not entitled to undertake the types of enquiries called for by the subpoena.

As well as noting that the subpoena had no legitimate forensic purpose, ARITA’s submission highlighted that the work undertaken by ARITA is, inter alia, to promote, uphold and enhance world class ethical and professional standards and to promote the ideals of the profession to the public at large. In doing so, it is imperative that ARITA has protocols governing a disciplinary process, that enable a balance of the interests of the members and the privacy and confidentiality of a member and any investigations undertaken of that member.

The release of confidential conduct files would undermine the operation of ARITA’s professional standards’ enforcement and that may risk the future likelihood of ARITA members ascribing to professional standards.