UAT Environment

Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal

TTIPAB header banner with floral outlines

The Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal is responsible for deciding whether trade marks and patent attorneys have committed offences.

What is the Disciplinary Tribunal?

The Disciplinary Tribunal consists of a three-person panel; an experienced legal practitioner and two experienced registered (or formerly registered) patent or trade marks attorneys. It has members from both Australia and New Zealand.

The tribunal process:

  • Notice of charges is made against an attorney by the Board
  • Time, date and place set for a hearing
  • The hearing must be at least 21 days after the attorney has been notified.

How the hearing process works

Hearings are conducted quickly and informally. The tribunal is not bound by the rules of evidence but may take evidence on oath.

Hearings before the tribunal must be in public unless the tribunal decides it is not in the public interest to do so or because of the confidential nature of any evidence.

Hearings can take place in Australia or New Zealand.

Appearing before the tribunal

Hearings are conducted in person or by video conference. Participants may choose to be represented by legal practitioners.

Participants may request the appearance of witnesses who must give evidence and produce related documents.

If summoned:

  • The attorney who is the subject of the complaint must produce documents and give evidence to identify the documents
  • Anyone summoned to appear or provide documents is subject to penalties if they do not comply without a reasonable excuse
  • Witnesses can refuse to answer questions or produce documents if the answer to the question or documents may tend to prove the person had committed an offence against a law of the Commonwealth or a state or territory.

Tribunal findings

Unsatisfactory professional conduct

If the tribunal finds the attorney guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct, it may:

  • Administer a public reprimand to the attorney
  • Suspend the attorney's registration for up to 12 months
  • Require the attorney to undertake additional continuing professional education
  • Require the attorney to work for up to 2 years under the supervision of an experienced registered attorney.

Professional misconduct

If the tribunal finds an attorney guilty of professional misconduct it may:

  • Cancel the attorney's registration
  • Suspend the attorney's registration between 6 and 12 months
  • Require the attorney to undertake additional continuing professional education
  • Require the attorney to work for up to 2 years under the supervision of an experienced registered attorney.

Unqualified at time of registration

If the tribunal finds the attorney guilty of being unqualified when they registered, it may:

  • Cancel their registration
  • Reprimand the attorney (if they since obtained the qualification).

Registration obtained by fraud

If the tribunal finds that the attorney obtained his or her registration by fraud, the tribunal must cancel the registration.

Appointing a registered patent attorney to carry on a practice

The tribunal may appoint a registered patent attorney to carry on the practice of a former patent attorney whose registration has been cancelled or suspended. If a registered attorney is appointed to carry on the practice, the attorney must obtain the clients' consent to act on their behalf.

Appeals

Appeals against decisions made by the tribunal can be lodged through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT):

  • Against a decision of the tribunal to find the attorney ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’
  • About the level of penalty imposed by the tribunal.

Appeals must follow the requirements as specified by the AAT.   

The Board's decision whether or not to start proceedings before the tribunal cannot be reviewed by the AAT.

Publication of tribunal decisions

The tribunal must give a written statement of its decision, setting out the reasons for the decision and the findings on any material questions of fact. You can view past tribunal decisions at anytime online.

Past tribunal decisions

Privacy statement for the tribunal

You can view the tribunal privacy statement anytime online.