find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
ACT lawyer struck off for mishandling client fees

ACT lawyer struck off for mishandling client fees

A lawyer in the ACT has been found to have misappropriated more than $47,000 in client fees by a tribunal.

The legal practitioner – whose name has been suppressed but was referred to as 'WA' – was found to have engaged in professional misconduct by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week. 

Allegations of WA’s professional misconduct emerged after complaints were made to the council of the Law Society of the ACT in 2014 by two solicitors who had purchased WA's sole legal practice in 2013.

The pair, who had retained WA as a consultant after the purchase, alleged that WA had taken $7,000 of client legal fees owed to the firm.

WA initially disputed the claim, saying that although he had mistakenly requested the client pay money into his personal account, it was not "misappropriated" because he had made out a cheque to the firm for the sum. The complainants denied ever having received a cheque.

Following a decision to pursue disciplinary action against the practitioner in June last year, WA made admissions to the law society that he had recklessly misappropriated the trust funds. He maintained that he did not breach Rule 39.2 of the Solicitors Rules.

However, as further unusual movements of client money came to light, the law society was compelled to amend the particulars of its application to the tribunal.

By November 2015 the alleged total of misappropriated trust funds by WA had increased from $7,000 to more than $47,000. 

The law society also amended particulars with respect to breach of Rule 39.2, adding that "WA had attempted to mislead".

The law society sought a finding that WA was guilty of professional misconduct and that the tribunal recommend his name be removed from the local roll.

Information later provided by WA assisted the tribunal in making its final determination.

In October, WA made a statutory declaration which set out the scope for finding additional misappropriation of client funds beyond the initial $7,000.

He also provided the law society with a document that detailed 20 further instances of payments where he had misappropriated funds owing to the firm. Those payments came to a total of $40,227 plus more than $5,000 interest.

In its decision, the tribunal cited a "most compelling" portion of WA's statutory declaration where he outlined his intention to plead guilty to charges of professional misconduct should there be "further complaint" in light of the new information.

The tribunal members described WA's misconduct as "sufficiently serious" to justify recommendation to the Supreme Court that he be struck off.

The tribunal members also expressed concern for clients of a NSW-based legal practice that has been established by WA since, who may be impacted by last week’s decision. A further request was made for the NSW Legal Services Commission and NSW Law Society to be notified of the recent tribunal order against WA and its reasons.

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

ACT lawyer struck off for mishandling client fees
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...