Lawyer fined $25,000 for professional misconduct
A NSW lawyer has been fined and had his practising certificate cancelled for 12 months, after he was found guilty of four counts of professional misconduct by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Michael John Shehadie was found to have breached statutory provisions binding solicitors in relation to mortgages.
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“In our view the respondent is continuing to have some difficulty in acknowledging his offences, and the risk to which they exposed others,” the tribunal said in relation to a misappropriation charge.
In one instance, Mr Shehadie, of Michie Shehadie & Co, was found to have directed the estate agent to deposit money into his practice’s trust account, before he transferred the money into his cash management account.
Though Mr Shehadie made no use of the money while it was under his control, the tribunal found he breached the purchaser’s right to have the deposit monies held in trust pending settlement and to receive the benefit of any interest earned during this period.
Mr Shehadie admitted that in 2011 he acted in respect of a regulated mortgage, a breach of the Legal Profession Act 2004. In another case, he admitted that he failed in his obligation to give written notice to a client of the fidelity insurance risk she might face if she entrusted money to him.
He was charged with misappropriation over the same matter, but denied that he had behaved dishonestly.
“The conduct in which he engaged in not holding the deposit pending settlement in a trust account would be seen by reasonably minded, objective observers as dishonest,” the tribunal found.
The tribunal ordered that Mr Shehadie pay the law society’s costs, in addition to the $25,000 fine.