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Landmark class action, unjust charges involved in ex-solicitor’s proceedings

An ex-solicitor who had his name stripped from the roll has taken on his former solicitor in proceedings involving wrongful fraud allegations and a landmark class action against a collapsed insurer.

user iconNaomi Neilson 17 July 2023 Big Law
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DC Legal, a firm established by former solicitor Bruce Dennis, is seeking to dive into the inner workings of a trust account that had been operated by solicitor Marcel Joukhador to receive $2,382,000 from the successful HIH Insurance class action.

The crux of the current proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court relates to how that settlement money was distributed.

At the time the class action began, Mr Joukhador worked with firm Thomas Booler Lawyers but made a move to his current firm, Harrow Legal, after NSW Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton made a landmark ruling in favour of the HIH plaintiffs in April 2016.


He was the principal of Harrow Legal when the money was received.

Mr Dennis was retained in 2001 to act for certain HIH shareholders who had acquired shares in circumstances that allegedly involved a market affected by misrepresentation. Mr Joukhador acted for shareholders in proceedings that ran alongside it.

Mr Joukhador was then retained by DC Legal to recover the costs payable to him from the class action settlement.

After requesting a receipt of the redacted version of Harrow Legal’s trust account statement in August 2021, DC Legal learnt the settlement sum was deposited into a trust account run by Harrow Legal rather than into one controlled by Thomas Booler Lawyers.

DC Legal submitted Mr Joukhador had an obligation to deposit the settlement sum into the Thomas Booler Lawyers trust account.

When Mr Joukhador’s practising certificate was cancelled in 2017, Phillip Madden, on behalf of Harrow Legal, agreed with Mr Dennis to recover and negotiate a settlement of costs to DC Legal.

This was linked to wrongful allegations made by police. The charges were dropped, and Lawyers Weekly does not allege any wrongdoing against Mr Joukhador and understands his certificate was reinstated.

Mr Dennis has not held a practising certificate since June 2015, and orders were made in 2016 to remove his name from the roll. DC Legal has not had any active clients since 2015.

Running alongside this dispute is a cross-claim brought by Mr Joukhador seeking a payment of $381,980 that he alleges was an overpayment of monies paid by him to DC Legal.

The proceedings have been stayed until DC Legal pays a security sum of $91,764 and costs to Mr Joukhador and Harrow Legal.

The matter is DC Legal Pty Ltd v Joukhador.

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