Unprofessionals in Law

April 26, 2012

Aussie compensation lawyers start bashing each other

Photo: Shutterstock

News reaches us from down under of complications in the field of compensation lawyers. (Sorry. This being Australia, that word should have been ‘compo’. Apologies.) Seems that every day a story breaks in the world of Aussie ‘compo’ that would make even a Last of the Summer Wine plot seem restrained.

Turn to the West Coast, and award-winning compo lawyer Paul O’Halloran (as reported on oneperth.co.au) has been suspended from practice for six months and ordered to pay A$134,000 in court costs. O’Halloran had been charged with ‘failing to put in place a system to ensure compliance with his superannuation obligations’ and, more seriously, of grossly overcharging several clients.

Now turn to the East Coast, where O’Halloran’s activities seem a mere kangaroo testicle hors d’oeuvres in comparison. Keddies, a compo firm now trading under the Slater & Gordon banner, has been subject to a number of allegations that it has been overcharging its clients, most of whom were accident victims. Partners have already paid back over a million dollars to former clients, and with more than 70 separate court cases ongoing there’s speculation that the final bill could hit A$10 million. That’s a lot of, um, readies for Keddies.

And in a recent twist, personal injury lawyer Stephen Firth, who has been leading the crusade against Keddies, has himself been accused of overcharging clients – in one case, that of a Mr Jack Lin, by more than A$100,000 dollars.

‘I think it’s clear what’s happening,’ Mr Firth said. ‘Mr Lin has no doubt been approached and influenced by people who are now aligning themselves with Keddies’ interests.’

The story has unsurprisingly encouraged comments on The Australian’s web site. ‘Compo lawyers. Who woulda thought they’d turn on each other?’ asks one correspondent, whilst Rudy of Brisbane says, ’95% of lawyers give the other 5% a bad name.’ Interesting. KM

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