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Tuesday, 28 November 1905


Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - I am sure that many lawyers would object to the appointment of a legal man as Registrar of Trade Marks, for the obvious reason that the non-legal man in such a position admits as evidence such extraordinary matters that in nine cases out of ten appeals necessarily follow. Therefore, nine times as much work is given to the lawyers as would otherwise be given.


Mr Watson - Did the honorable and learned member ever know an Act in connexion with which there was no possibility of work being given to lawyers?


Mr CONROY - Where a man of good legal training is given the administration of an Act, there is not much opportunity for appeal.


Mr Watson - No two legal men ever agree.


Mr CONROY - That is where the construction of an Act is faulty. But where the provisions of a measure are clear, a man of common sense can interpret them. Lawyers are trained to read sense into provisions which often, as they stand, are mere nonsense. If a legal man were put at the head of this office, he would not give many opportunities for appeal.


Mr Watson - There are many men in the Commonwealth who are experts in connexion with trade marks, but are not legal men.


Mr CONROY - They have legallytrained minds, and will be recognised by lawyers as possessing full knowledge of the subject.


Mr Webster - The practical man is always to be preferred to the lawyer.


Mr CONROY - In administering a measure of this kind, a man would always have to be guided by previous decisions. Of course, trouble occurs when one is asked to construe an Act of Parliament the meaning of which is obscure. In such a case, a man finds it difficult to make up his mind, because Parliament did not express its mind. The lawyers ought to be thankful to the honorable member for Bland for saying that he does not want a man with legal training at the head of this Department.


Mr Watson - I want a practical man, whether he be a lawyer or not.


Mr CONROY - A practical man will have a knowledge of the cases which have already been decided.


Mr Watson - He will have a special knowledge of trade marks work.


Mr CONROY - A layman may have as good a knowledge of this subject as a lawyer. Law is only trained common sense; though when a lawyer has to interpret an Act of Parliament, he becomes a wordsplitter, because, out of respect to a Legislature, he has to try to give meanings to provisions, which, owing to the incapacity of that Legislature, possess none.

Clause agreed to.

Clause12 (Trade Marks Office).







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