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SA solicitor struck off for ‘egregious’ misappropriation of trust money

A South Australian solicitor who took more than $30,000 meant for six barristers has been struck off the roll.

user iconNaomi Neilson 26 March 2024 Big Law
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The Supreme Court of South Australia ordered Atanas Michael Radin, a former director and sole practitioner of Radin Legal, have his name struck from the roll of practitioners for misappropriating trust funds, making false statements, and failing to meet tax obligations.

The court was told Radin engaged six barristers between 2016 and 2017 and misappropriated the funds meant to pay them.

In one of the more “blatant” instances, Radin advised barrister Matthew Murphy to hold off on preparing for a three-day trial until he could secure the sum of $14,520 from the client.


When it was secured, Radin gave the barrister the green light, only to then appropriate the money for his own purposes.

The full court – comprised of President Mark Livesey, Justice Chris Bleby and Justice Sophie David – noted while Radin was experiencing financial difficulties at the time, it did not excuse the misconduct.

“When the practitioner’s misconduct is viewed as a whole, it represents such a serious departure from the standards reasonably expected from members of the legal profession over such a long period that the court cannot be confident that the practitioner can ever fulfil the essential obligations associated with legal practice,” they said.

In the case of two of the barristers swindled by Radin, the full court found he was prepared to use trust money “to pay his own accounts and preferred his interests over those of counsel”.

In connection with a claim against Radin by a consulting practitioner for unpaid fees, Radin also failed to pay barrister Chad Jacobi $6,666.

Although the misconduct occurred several years ago, the Full Court said there was no evidence to suggest Radin made the payments “or otherwise explain his misconduct in a satisfactory manner”.

“All in all, taken as a whole, the practitioner’s conduct demonstrates a fundamental inability to adhere to the high standards expected of legal practitioners when dealing with counsel,” the Full Court determined.

Radin was also found guilty of unprofessional conduct for lying to SA Law Society officers who were investigating the trust account of a firm he shared with a former partner in August 2011.

While it was the partner who had appropriated $25,000 from a client, both he and Radin were ordered by the Law Society to repay the sum.

Shortly after this, both men established their own practices and Radin was asked to assist his partner in the Law Society matter.

It was in this role that he sent a letter claiming $23,315.15 had been returned despite no bank statements supporting it.

When questioned by the officer, Radin made a further false statement claiming the funds had been repaid to the client.

“This court can have no confidence that the practitioner understands the full import of his transgressions,” the Full Court found.

“Indeed, no attempt has been made to go behind his earlier evidence by which, in significant respects, the practitioner attempted to shift the blame for his misconduct onto others.”