Response to Vanessa Deverson On 'Child Abuse And Neglect: Mandatory Reporting And The Legal Profession'

  • David Caruso University of Adelaide Law Society of South Australia
Keywords: mandatory reporting, child abuse, ethics, confidence


This comment responds to Vanessa Deverson’s article titled ‘Child Abuse and Neglect: Mandatory Reporting and the Legal Profession’ and examines whether it is desirable for lawyers to be required to report child abuse and neglect that may be revealed by their clients. The comment begins by articulating the role of the legal profession, and explains how it differs from other professions. Part I explains that an obligation to report child abuse would fundamentally change the role of the legal profession in defending or asserting the rights, liberties and liabilities of their clients. Part II argues that even if mandatory reporting were to be brought in, it would be unlikely achieve its intended purpose because it would create suspicion towards the legal profession and undermine its role. The final Part discusses current South Australian draft legislation aimed at protecting children and argues that this may be a more appropriate route. The comment concludes that current Northern Territory reporting laws do not belong in a legal system that depends on clients having confidence in their lawyers.

Author Biography

David Caruso, University of Adelaide Law Society of South Australia
Senior Lecturer in Law, Law School, University of Adealide; Current President of the Law Society of South Australia