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Sydney woman again fails to dodge $35k legal fee

A Supreme Court has thrown out a Sydney woman’s fourth attempt to dodge a $35,000 payment to her former firm.

user iconNaomi Neilson 26 February 2024 Big Law
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Dana Rahme’s application for leave to appeal the court’s earlier judgment awarding Kekatos Lawyers the $35,009.50 was dismissed by the NSW Supreme Court late last week.

It is the second time Ms Rahme has failed to appeal.

Kekatos Lawyers acted for Ms Rahme in a 2019 matter to secure damages against her former firm, Benjamin & Khoury, for its breach of fiduciary duty and to remove a caveat it placed on her property.

 
 

The relationship between Ms Rahme and Kekatos Lawyers soon soured when she turned to the Magistrates Court to have the costs relating to the caveat on her property thrown out.

While a magistrate gave judgment in her favour, this was quickly overturned by the NSW Supreme Court, which found Ms Rahme’s Benjamin & Khoury matter had “necessarily admitted her binding legal obligations to pay the caveat costs” to Kekatos Lawyers.

Ms Rahme has sought leave to appeal this decision on the grounds Justice Monika Schmidt erred by finding the matters before the magistrate were an “abuse of process” and a finding Ms Rahme had accepted in the Local Court she had not paid the caveat costs.

Ms Rahme insisted she would have paid the caveat out of damages awarded to Kekatos Lawyers, which she said the firm had applied for “without her authority”, along with the payment of other costs.

Justices Anthony Payne, Anna Mitchelmore and Carolyn Simpson found the primary judge was correct to conclude Ms Rahme’s pleading in the Local Court was an abuse of process and the attempt to relitigate “would be manifestly unfair to Kekatos Lawyers”.

They also found the primary judge did not err to find Ms Rahme accepted in the Local Court she had not paid the caveat costs and failed to find evidence that Kekatos Lawyers had this money.

“No evidence had been led in the Local Court to support a finding that Kekatos Lawyers transferred funds from the trust account without her authority, or that Ms Rahme required the caveat costs to be paid first,” they determined.