A Melbourne lawyer has had his practising certificate cancelled for 12 months for failing to appear at his client’s court hearing and providing false statements to the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner.
John Mingos, principal of the former law firm Mingos Kay Lawyers, pleaded guilty on 18 April to one charge of professional misconduct and two charges of misconduct at common law, arising from events that began in 2012.
On 1 November 2012, Mr Mingos failed to appear at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court for the hearing of charges against his client Mr Lee, which resulted in Mr Lee being arrested.
Prior to the hearing date, Mr Mingos repeatedly told Mr Lee he did not know the date of the hearing and failed to deliver all the relevant documents to Mr Lee’s new solicitors as requested.
His failure to attend the hearing, or arrange for anyone else to attend, was the basis of one charge of professional misconduct, in that he engaged in a substantial or consistent failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence.
Mr Mingos then went on to create a fiction that he was informed the hearing was on 21 November 2012, as opposed to 1 November 2012.
He amended the hearing notice he had received and provided false statements to his client’s new solicitors as well as the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner during its investigation of Mr Lee's complaint.
The two charges of misconduct at common law, in that he engaged in conduct that would be regarded by lawyers of good repute as dishonourable or disgraceful, arose from the amendment he made to the hearing notice and the false statements he provided.
On 3 June 2016 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered that Mr Mingos be reprimanded, his local practising certificate cancelled for 12 months with effect from 14 June, and that he is to pay the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner’s costs of the proceeding fixed as agreed by the parties in the amount of $20,605.
No local practising certificate may be issued to him before 14 June 2017, and a practising certificate entitling him to act as a principal of a practice may not be granted to him before 14 June 2019.
Mr Mingos has a prior history of disciplinary findings, with two previous decisions of the Tribunal in 2013 and 2014, four internal findings of the Commissioner between 2011 and 2013, and two matters in 1999 and 1984.