To Show Cause or not Show Cause – Is that Really A Question?
By Chris Korbel
The title of this article might be familiar to some or might be a vague memory of something that you have heard someone say once before in a Year 5 English class. If you can’t recall why the title seems familiar, the title of this article is a reference to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
“To be or not to be, that is the question” is the first line of Prince Hamlet’s soliloquy in which the prince contemplates some very serious matters concerning life. Another way of putting those words is “to exist or not to exist, that is the question.”
Whichever form those words take, there is undeniably a lot of power in them, particularly in the context of show cause letters and disciplinary matters.
Show Cause Letters
There are a broad range of areas where a person may receive a show cause letter, including:
- Regulatory bodies such as:
- Blue Card Services; or
- Weapon’s Licencing of the Queensland Police Service (see my colleague Mr Jason Papoutsis’ article where he discusses this further: Weapons Licensing Matters in Queensland
- From employers (in both the public and private sector).
If a person has received a show cause letter, they must be aware of their legal obligations when dealing with a show cause letter. This could include a person’s obligation as an employee.
Responding to a show cause letter is usually a recipient’s only chance at responding to allegations which have been made against them. A decision-maker will usually rely upon the available information and evidence to them which is enclosed to a show cause letter. A decision to not respond to a show cause letter should not be made lightly.
It can be a daunting and stressful period for anyone to receive a show cause letter, and can often cause recipients to become unsettled, especially because of the uncertainty of the unknown. It is important to take a step back and think carefully about the contents of a show cause letter before making any decisions.
The first step (and most important step) should be to seek legal advice from solicitors who are well versed in dealing with show cause letters as soon as possible.
Our litigation lawyers have a particular skillset in assisting with show cause letters and can advise you on your legal position and assist you in implementing strategies to deal with the show cause letter.
There are often time limits to respond to a show cause letter. It is critical to be aware of time limits to respond to a cause letter.
Contacting an experienced solicitor as soon as possible after receiving a show cause letter may assist in alleviating some of the pressures associated with responding to a show cause letter.
It is important to not overlook the importance and value of seeking legal advice as early as possible, even if a recipient forms the view that there is no benefit in responding to a show cause letter.
While there may be truth to the allegations which have been made, there are other considerations which should be taken into account when a person is deciding whether or not they should provide a response to a show cause letter.
For example, decision-makers of allegations contained in a show cause letter are often bound by the principle in Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336, which goes to the quality of the evidence. Simply put, the more serious an allegation is, the stronger the evidence must be for an allegation to be upheld.
Advantage of Responding to a Show Cause Letter
In some cases, there are issues with the evidence which the decision-maker proposes to rely upon. Failing to provide a response to a show cause letter, or otherwise making the decision-maker aware of such issues could result in the decision-maker making an erroneous decision.
As such, we recommend recipients of a show cause letter contact solicitors who are well versed in responding to show cause letters as soon as possible. In almost all cases, it is better that a response to a show cause notice exists, rather than not existing at all.
We Can Help
Our experienced litigation lawyers would be happy to assist and discuss your matter with you.
Feel free to call us on 07 5532 3133 to speak with one of our experienced litigation lawyers or contact us online.