Strike-off for lawyer with long disciplinary history - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Strike-off for lawyer with long disciplinary history

January 5, 2017

A former Caulfield North solicitor, who had had multiple practising certificates cancelled across his career, has been removed from the roll of legal practitioners.

The Supreme Court of Victoria ordered that Mr Jan Horak be removed from the roll after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Authority had earlier cancelled his practising certificate for a third time.

In 2014 VCAT found Mr Horak guilty of seven charges of professional misconduct for charging excessive legal costs, failing to maintain trust account records, withdrawing trust account funds without authorisation, failing to comply with Costs Court orders, improperly mixing his own interests in settlement negotiations on behalf of a client, and implying he would use privileged information against a former client unless a complaint made against him was withdrawn.

Mr Horak’s disciplinary history also included a four-year cancellation of his practising certificate in 1990, followed by a six-year cancellation in 1998.

In the Court’s decision, Her Honour Justice McMillan noted:

‘The defendant’s conduct, both as admitted and as evident from his prior disciplinary hearings, indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of the obligations and duties of a legal practitioner. This lack of understanding extends across a broad range of conduct, and has extended over almost the entirety of the defendant’s legal career. The conduct displayed also indicates a total absence of understanding, if not complete disregard, of a practitioner’s obligations to clients, other practitioners, the regulator and the courts.

‘In light of the defendant’s persistent gross departures from the standard expected of a legal practitioner, the only remedy that would sufficiently protect the public and the administration of justice through the maintenance of professional standards and public confidence in those standards is to remove the defendant’s name from the roll.’

Mr Horak did not appear at the Supreme Court hearing.

For further information, download the 2014 VCAT decision and the Supreme Court order.