Victorian solicitor struck off for professional misconduct
A lawyer with 45 years’ experience was struck off last week after being found to have repeatedly breached his fiduciary duties in deceased estate matters.
The Supreme Court ordered Philip Hamilton Rhoden’s name be removed from the roll of legal practitioners on 2 March.
Prior to this, the former Gippsland solicitor was found to be guilty of 21 charges of professional misconduct by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The charges brought against Mr Rhoden by the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner included breaching his fiduciary duty by claiming more than $350,000 in executor’s commissions on eight estates without any entitlement.
VCAT found Mr Rhoden had demonstrated no remorse or insight into his conduct and ordered him to pay restitution totalling $357,383 and $26,766 for the Commissioner’s costs.
Mr Rhoden did not appear in court to contest the strike-off application by the Commissioner.
The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, Michael McGarvie, welcomed the decision.
“The lesson here for all lawyers is that they must ensure that they are clear and thorough in their communications with people, and provide full disclosure when it comes to costs, commissions and billing arrangements,” Mr McGarvie said.
“It is unfortunate that such a long career in the law had to end this way, but the profession’s own high standards can never tolerate such unscrupulous behaviour,” Mr McGarvie added.