Law Council chides ASIC

The Law Council of Australia has scolded ASIC, after deputy chair Daniel Crennan warned the financial services industry not to waste the regulator's time.

The Law Council of Australia has openly grilled the corporate regulator's approach, after deputy chair Daniel Crennan was quoted in The Australian as saying organisations facing off against ASIC shouldn't "battle us [ASIC] for years upon end in the court".

Crennan told The Australian regulated organisations should adopt a more pragmatic approach where appropriate, commenting that the regulator would welcome more co-operation between ASIC and the organisations it was taking to task.

"The more timely the better, frankly, because of our use of public funds," Crennan told The Australian.

"Don't battle us for years upon end in the court because, as I've said before, we're resolute and part of our business is litigating, it doesn't interrupt our business model. We will fight it all the way to the High Court if we need to."

However, the Law Council was unimpressed with Crennan's comments and said it was concerning to see ASIC make a statement which might "put undue pressure on parties not to contest proceedings or raise legitimate issues for determination by a court."

The Law Council pointed out that with the stakes so high for people facing criminal or civil proceedings brought by ASIC, it was entirely appropriate for defendants to "rely on the rights and protections developed over centuries to ensure the proceedings ASIC is bringing against them are conducted fairly".

"If ASIC believes there are concerns in a particular case about the conduct of the litigation, the appropriate person for ASIC to raise these concerns with is the judicial officer conducting the matter, not by making broad statements to the media which may be read as veiled threats to litigants and business," the Law Council said.

"Such conduct may have a tendency to influence parties not to contest legitimate claims and undermine confidence in the judicial system and litigation process."

Read more: AustralianDaniel CrennanLaw Council of AustraliaASIC forHigh Court
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