A former Qantas pilot who pretended to be a lawyer to provide legal services, including a court appearance, has been sentenced.
Nathaniel Whitehall, 55, received three community correction orders and a $4,500 fine in the Sydney Downing Centre Local Court for eight offences of working as a lawyer without a practising certificate.
Appearing self-represented, Whitehall told the court he wanted to move away from his 20-year piloting career when he began working for a conveyancing company in the NSW city of Newcastle.
While there, he prepared and witnessed the signing of wills and represented a woman in a Belmont court for a traffic infringement.
The court heard he also signed a water access licence.
President of the NSW Law Society, Cassandra Banks, said Whitehall’s sentence should “serve as a deterrent to people tempted to falsely hold themselves out as being a lawyer and as a reminder of the consequences of such conduct”.
“People in need of legal advice have a right to expect that the person they have retained to provide these services is qualified to do so.
“Lawyers in NSW are subject to stringent ethical obligations, including the paramount duty to the administration of justice, duties to the court and to advancing the clients’ interests above their own.
“They are required to maintain the highest standards of integrity, honesty and fairness,” Banks said.
In sentencing remarks, Magistrate Juliana Crofts said Whitehall left his clients without “protection” and open to “serious ramifications”.
Crofts added she was concerned about his lack of understanding of the seriousness of his conduct.