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Woman’s conflict with boutique firm given one more chance

A South Australian woman who has brought a number of unsuccessful and “contentious” applications against a boutique law firm has been given one last chance to argue her case.

user iconNaomi Neilson 09 February 2024 Big Law
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NIMLAW, an incorporated legal practice, appeared before the Federal Court on Thursday (8 February) afternoon and requested the matter be relisted for late next week to accommodate the absent Susan Scott, a former client who has refused to pay her legal fees.

Dr Scott’s “long history” with the firm included multiple appeals, including last month’s attempt to appeal Justice Michael O’Bryan’s decision to dismiss an application to stay a bankruptcy notice.

At the time, Justice Shaun McElwaine said Dr Scott’s submissions about Justice O’Bryan’s reasonings did not make sense.


On Thursday, Justice McElwaine said there were now two interlocutory applications before the Federal Court, including an application requesting that he recuse himself from the matter.

When Dr Scott failed to appear, Justice McElwaine asked NIMLAW’s counsel, Peter Quinn, if he wished to apply to dismiss the matter.

But Mr Quinn said Dr Scott is in the habit of “showing up late” with another application, and he suspected he would still have to return to the Federal Court even if the current matter is dismissed.

“I would be loath to make an application to dismiss all of this in circumstances where Dr Scott was not present … I consider the better course is to relist it in short order,” Mr Quinn said.

Mr Quinn added the rescheduling was out of “caution and expediency” but suggested he would make an application to dismiss the matter if Dr Scott failed to appear at the next occasion.

When Justice McElwaine asked if this meant he would also apply to dismiss Dr Scott’s foreshadowed appeal of his earlier decision, Mr Quinn said he would because it was “incompetent”.

“It has not addressed any concerns raised by the court on the previous occasions, it is not a notice of appeal, it does not identify any of the grounds of the appeal, and it is infected with all the defects that appear in the original notice,” Mr Quinn said.

“I know full well we will be back here before Your Honour or another judge … fleshing this out at some point.”

In one of the earlier proceedings against the firm, Dr Scott suggested she was the victim of a “series of injustices” in her dealing with the justice system, including in its handling of her mother’s death.

While this grievance was acknowledged by Justice Natalie Charlesworth at the time, it was noted this did not “affect the private rights and obligations as between her and the firm”.

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