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Barrister clashes with solicitor in Supreme Court dispute

A barrister and a solicitor, both with considerable experience in the profession, have clashed in a Supreme Court during a will dispute.

user iconNaomi Neilson 03 August 2023 Big Law
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Barrister and solicitor Richard Connock, who has most recently held statutory office holder positions in Tasmania, told the Supreme Court of Victoria it should take “great caution” in respect of his now deceased father’s solicitor, Basil Ristevski.

The latter, who runs his own firm in the suburb of Drysdale, has been practising as a solicitor for more than 40 years and worked closely with Mr Connock’s father on his will between 2006 and 2014.

The issue at the centre of the Supreme Court matter concerns Mr Connock and Barbara Faye Connock, who married Mr Connock’s father shortly after they began a romantic relationship in 2000.


Mr Connock alleged Mr Ristevski was “partisan in light of evidence he gave that he was trying to assist [the other party] in the conduct”.

He alleged Mr Ristevski did this by providing prior wills and notes of instructions and other related matters to Ms Connock’s solicitors, “without obtaining the consent of the person whose privilege it was”.

“It was submitted Mr Ristevski went out of his way to assist Ms Connock and, in doing so, breached his obligations towards [the father’s] estate, while at the same time actively seeking to not assist the estate in the conduct of the litigation by refusing to provide documents,” the Supreme Court said in its judgment.

“More generally, it was submitted that Mr Ristevski was often evasive and non-responsive in his evidence.”

Judge Steven Moore said that while he was satisfied Mr Ristevski “closely aligned himself with and been an advocate for Ms Connock” in the litigation and in matters concerning the proceedings, he “did not wish to imply his evidence to the court was anything other than truthful”.

The court added Mr Connock’s reservations concern a “limited moment” as they “do not rise in any substantial way” to the issue at the centre of the dispute.

The making of the wills occurred “before there was any inkling of the later controversies in relation to which Mr Ristevski may fairly be said to have had a partisan role”, Justice Moore added.

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