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WA lawyer misappropriated $80k from client’s estate

The fate of a West Australian lawyer remains unclear after he was found to have misappropriated over $80,000 from a client’s estate.

user iconNaomi Neilson 12 December 2023 Big Law
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Howard John Ginbey, sole practitioner of Ginbey & Co, was found to have misappropriated $83,741.22 of estate funds into his personal bank account between 26 September and 28 November 2016.

Mr Ginbey then withdrew the funds “for a purpose unconnected with the administration of the estate” and failed to repay until early 2021.

Following complaints made to the Legal Profession Complaints Committee (LPCC), Mr Ginbey was found by the State Administrative Tribunal to have engaged in professional misconduct.


In addition to misappropriating the estate funds, Mr Ginbey was accused of receiving $37,407.14 in transit and trust money in circumstances where he did not operate a trust account.

The money was paid into an overdraft account which was in debit.

Mr Ginbey was instructed by his client to transfer the money to the Department of Veterans Affairs to settle a debt but failed to do so.

After he was made aware the debt was waived by the Public Trustee, Mr Ginbey then failed to repay the $37,407.14.

The LPCC submitted the “real reason” he did not transfer the money in accordance with instructions was due to his financial difficulties.

In respect of the same client, Mr Ginbey was accused of then issuing two invoices, valued at $2,021, for work he did not perform.

Judge Kathleen Glancy, along with senior member Patricia Le Miere and member Ross Povey, said no rule is required for practitioners to understand lying to a client about work that was not performed and then charging for it “were all acts of dishonesty”.

“Honesty is a touchstone of our legal system, and the honesty of practitioners to the court and to clients is essential to the administration of justice and to the maintenance of the public’s confidence in the profession,” Judge Glancy said.

Mr Ginbey was also found to have failed to respond to communications and requests for information by the LPCC.

He did not participate in any part of the proceedings.

Orders will be made at a later date.