Australia: NSW – Law Society owed $30k after attempt to sue deceased solicitor

Lawyers Weekly Australia report

A man who attempted to bring proceedings against a deceased solicitor has been ordered to hand over $30,000 to the NSW Law Society following a number of unsuccessful court appearances.

A client involved in Family Court proceedings alleged his former solicitor, now deceased Douglas Knaggs, breached his trust and breached the contract for legal services or their agreement.

The man, who cannot be named, claimed he instructed Mr Knaggs to forward payments to his former de facto partner, but the money was instead deposited into a separate Family Court debt.

It was alleged the payment to the second debt meant one of the man’s properties had to be sold to satisfy other orders.

The proceedings against Mr Knaggs began in 2018, and the man made an application to join the Law Society’s Fidelity Fund. The Law Society challenged this decision on the grounds it was not a party in the man’s proceedings against the solicitor at the time.

In September 2019, he sought to join Lawcover, Lawcover Insurance, and the Law Society, but by the time the hearing rolled around in February 2020, he had terminated his barrister’s retainer and was refused an adjournment. He left the courtroom after this decision.