Sammy Bektas, a former Melbourne personal injuries solicitor from Victorian Compensation Lawyers, can no longer work as a lawyer.
He applied to the Supreme Court to have his name struck off, a move fully supported by Victoria’s legal services commissioner and CEO of the Legal Services Board, Michael McGarvie.
Mr Bektas had his practising certificate cancelled in 2013 after being found guilty of eight counts of professional misconduct and five counts of unsatisfactory professional conduct.
The charges related to around 80 client complaints involving excessive overcharging, improper dealings with trust money, poor cost disclosure and billing practices, poor conduct towards his clients, undue pressure over costs and requests for itemised bills, and inadequate provision of advice and explanations to clients.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ruled at the time that Bektas’ practising certificate be cancelled for four years and that any future practising certificate he applied for be subject to strict conditions, including that he be prohibited from running a law firm for a period of two years.
Mr Bektas was also ordered to pay $200,000 of the Commissioner’s costs.
Mr McGarvie said that although the complaints did not involve allegations of fraud or dishonesty, the volume and their seriousness justified Mr Bektas’ removal from the roll.
“Mr Bektas’ application has achieved the greatest public protection possible. It also protects the complainants from the strain of a drawn-out investigation and prosecution process and saves considerable court time,” he said.
“There is a lesson here for all lawyers: clients are entitled to know in advance what their legal work will cost them and what their rights are, and lawyers must be fair in what they charge.”
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye accepted Mr Bektas’ application and ordered his name be removed from the roll of legal practitioners.
Mr Bektas also agreed to pay compensation to certain affected clients.
The judge commended both the commissioner and Mr Bektas on the sensible way the application was conducted.