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Lawyer who represented feuding neighbour reprimanded

A tribunal has penalised a Victorian lawyer for lodging three caveats on a property without a proper basis.

user iconNaomi Neilson 24 May 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Solicitor Hubert Fong, who was found to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct in February, was publicly reprimanded, fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $5,000 in costs.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s (VCAT) senior member Elisabeth Wentworth said she was satisfied the penalty “will address, so far as needed, the well-established principles and purposes of the penalty orders in legal professional disciplinary cases”.

The three caveats were lodged on behalf of Fong’s client, who was in the midst of a fence line dispute with his neighbour.


Fong lodged the first caveat on the neighbour’s property in 2016 on the grounds of “adverse possession by exclusive operation” and to “defend claims for adverse possession should they be made”.

The second and third, lodged in the two years following, claimed registered proprietors were “entitled to possession of the certificate of title for the land and to prevent improper dealings”.

The first and third were scrapped after the neighbour made an application to Land Titles, and Fong did not commence proceedings to substantiate the claims. The second was withdrawn.

In February, Wentworth said the client could have brought a claim to the Magistrates Court, but no right existed for Fong to create a caveatable interest over the neighbouring property.

She added the client “had no legal, equitable, or possessory interest in the neighbour’s property capable of supporting a caveat”.

The Legal Services Commissioner pushed for a finding of professional misconduct, but Wentworth settled for unsatisfactory professional conduct because she determined Fong did not act.