Struck-off lawyer stole from clients

By Reporter|14 October 2013

A Queensland lawyer has been banned from practice for a string of offences that include misappropriating client funds and charging excessive legal fees.

The Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) brought 15 charges against Chandrika Achala Devi Urban, who was admitted as a Queensland solicitor in 1997. They include: illegally transferring funds from her trust account, misappropriating trust funds, borrowing $50,000 from a client, gross overcharging and failure to comply with numerous notices in the course of investigations by the Queensland Law Society and LSC.

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Urban’s name has been removed from the roll in Queensland and she has been ordered to pay the LSC’s legal costs, fixed at $2500, as well as $6185 compensation to a client whose money was misappropriated.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal president Justice Alan Wilson described the charges as “wide ranging and serious”.

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One client was charged almost $120,000 for legal services, which were later assessed to be worth around $54,000. The Tribunal also heard that Urban misappropriated $6185 from another client; that sum was to be held on trust against fees for a medical assessment and report, but no medical examination was ever undertaken.

Urban also borrowed $50,000 from a client, drafting a loan agreement but failing to suggest the individual obtain independent legal advice. The loan was to be repaid within six months, but she only made three payments totalling $14,000. The client said the incident had “aggravated his depressive condition.”

“[Urban] has committed serious breaches of the honesty and trust that go to the heart of a solicitor’s professional obligations to clients,” said Justice Wilson in his decision.

Urban did not file a response, appear at hearings, file submissions or ever inform the LSC or Law Society of her whereabouts.

Struck-off lawyer stole from clients
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