find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Unwise lawyer’s ‘reckless’ receipt of trust money

Unwise lawyer’s ‘reckless’ receipt of trust money

A Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision has highlighted the perils lawyers face dealing with client money when not licensed to do so.

Victorian lawyer James William Tasman Wise has been fined $10,000 plus costs and reprimanded for professional misconduct.

The sole practitioner pleaded guilty to charges of professional misconduct in the course of providing legal services under the name HKS Lawyers in Melbourne.

Specifically, Mr Wise acknowledged wrongdoing in three instances from November to December 2014 where he received cheques that had been made out to one of his clients. Although the cheques had been passed on to Mr Wise’s client, the tribunal held that he should have requested the cheques be sent to the intended recipient directly.

At the time of the transactions, the lawyer’s pracitising certificate was subject to certain conditions. While Mr Wise was entitled to be engaged as principal of a legal practice, he was not authorised to receive trust monies.

The tribunal said that the conduct fell within the definition of having received transit and trust monies under sections 128 and 129(1) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (LPUL) and described Mr Wise’s actions as “reckless”.

Senior tribunal member Gerard Butcher, who heard the matter in September last year, said that although no client funds had been misappropriated by Mr Wise, he did not believe the lawyer had the “proper understanding of the requirements relating to practice”.

“There is a need for specific and general deterrence in relation to these charges together with a need to protect the public,” Mr Butcher said.

Last month, the tribunal made an order prohibiting Mr Wise from holding a practising certificate that allows him to act as a principal until July 2021. In that period he will also continue to be ineligible to receive trust money under his practising certificate conditions.

During Mr Wise’s misconduct hearing in September, the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner also alleged that he engaged in “conduct that had involved a substantial failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence in diligence” as per section 4.4.3(1)(a) of the LPUL.

That charge, for which Mr Wise also admitted guilt, related to representations the lawyer made to a support group for people with asbestos-related health conditions, including the distribution of business cards and brochures.

Materials promoting Mr Wise’s services at a meeting jointly convened by the Asbestos Council of Victoria and Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support Inc. implied that Acclaim Lawyers was entitled to engage in legal practice. Acclaim Lawyers was registered as a corporation, however at no point time was it registered as an incorporated legal practice.

“The implication that Acclaim Lawyers was entitled to engage in legal practice arises in a setting where Mr Wise, his sister and his brother-in-law (a cardo-thoracic surgeon) engaged in garnering business in relation to asbestos related diseases; I am unable to find any justification for the making of that implication,” Mr Butcher said.

“Mr Wise clearly did not have a trust account and the company Acclaim Lawyers Pty Ltd did not hold a certificate as an incorporated legal practice.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Unwise lawyer’s ‘reckless’ receipt of trust money
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Law Council of Australia
LCA calls for urgent adoption of ‘game-changing’ recommendation
The Law Council of Australia has urged for the immediate adoption of a key recommendation put forwar...
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...