Australia: Regional lawyer gets kicked out of profession for 2 years after ‘serious’ misconduct

Lawyers Weekly Australia reports

Kristy Anne Burrows, principal and director of Yarra Ranges Lawyers, was reprimanded, had her practising certificate cancelled, and told not to practise for a period of two years following several errors she made while representing a mother and daughter on their property transaction.

By assisting both women as the vendor and purchaser, and again as the lender and borrower in respect of a loan agreement, Burrows acted in a conflict and failed to advise them and obtain consent.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) was told in addition to this, Burrows created a false document to send to the State Revenue Office (SRO) to “mask an error” she had made and to provide the daughter with financial advantage. She did so without instruction.

“Time away from practice is required so that Burrows can reflect on her conduct and develop full, meaningful and lasting insight,” VCAT member Neill Campbell said in his written judgment.

Burrows began acting for the two women in July 2017 on the property matter, which involved drafting documents for the sale of the property, creating a related loan agreement, and the subsequent conveyance.

Due to hitches in the related party transaction and the first home buyers concession, Burrows informed the daughter in January 2018 the SRO required she pay the full amount of the stamp duty. She advised the daughter to request a refund after the settlement.

In June the same year, the SRO informed Burrows the refund was denied because it only had proof of payment for half the property’s value, and the loan agreement between mother and daughter could not be considered because it did not include a repayment schedule.

The same day, Burrows told a junior lawyer to send an email to the SRO with a falsely created loan agreement attached. Neither the mother or daughter provided her with instructions to do so.