Reprimand for solicitor who failed to correctly cease to act for client - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Reprimand for solicitor who failed to correctly cease to act for client

November 13, 2018

A western suburbs lawyer has been reprimanded after her former client was left without representation at a court hearing.

Footscray solicitor, Ms Madelaine Tran, was found guilty of one charge of professional misconduct and one of unsatisfactory professional conduct in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, after she failed to correctly cease acting for her client.

The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner told VCAT that Ms Tran had emailed her client in a family law matter to confirm that she would cease to act for him. Four days later she emailed the solicitor for the other side to notify that she had ceased to act, indicating that she intended to file a Notice of Ceasing to Act with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia later that day.

VCAT heard that Ms Tran failed to file the Notice with the Court, and when the family law hearing commenced the following week, Ms Tran’s former client was not represented. When contacted by the Judge’s associate, Ms Tran explained she had given her former client ‘the requisite 7 days’ notice’ of her intention to withdraw representation.

The Commissioner told VCAT that Ms Tran had eventually filed a notice of withdrawal with the Court more than a month after the Court hearing, but when the Commissioner asked her for an explanation of her conduct, Ms Tran failed to provide one.

VCAT found Ms Tran guilty of one charge of unsatisfactory professional conduct for withdrawing from a family law proceeding without complying with the Federal Circuit Court Rules, and one charge of professional misconduct for failing to provide the Commissioner with a full explanation of her conduct.

Ms Tran was reprimanded on both charges, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay the Commissioner’s costs of $8,000.

For further information, download the VCAT decision and penalty Orders.