find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
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:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

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

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Unwise lawyer’s ‘reckless’ receipt of trust money
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Debate rises over Victorian judiciary attack
Jan 24 2018
Debate rises over Victorian judiciary attack
The Victorian Bar has become the latest to go on record condemning recent political attacks on the V...
Michelle Quigley QC
Jan 24 2018
Vic Barrister who helped stop major heritage redevelopment joins Supreme Court
Michelle Quigley QC, who assisted a coalition to oppose the redevelopment of St Heliers villa estate...
Building, construction
Jan 24 2018
Building finish for NSW coroner’s complex slated for early 2019
Efforts to relocate the state coroner’s facilities from Glebe to Lidcombe are on track, according ...
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 & ...