Legal representation in the Fair Work Commisssion

In New South Wales Bar Association v McAuliffe; Commonwealth of Australia represented by the Australian Tax Office (2014) FWCFB 1663 delivered on 13 March 2014, a senior Full Bench of the Commission has determined that a Commissioner hearing an unfair dismissal case was wrong to rule that one party to the case could only be represented by a solicitor and not a barrister because the other party was represented by a solicitor. The Full Bench concluded that the decision at first instance was wrong firstly because the focus had been on the fairness to the party who chose to be represented by a solicitor when it should have been about the fairness to the party who wanted to be represented by a barrister. And secondly, that the question was whether a party should be given leave to be represented by a lawyer or a paid agent, not between a solicitor and a barrister, both of which vocations are lawyers. The Full Bench had a swipe at the Commissioner for choosing which of the legal team representing the party should have the right to conduct the case.